Circulate is a research project that explores the design of digital platforms for resource communities. In particular, we have looked at the affordances of distributed ledger technologies as administration and governance tools for communities that want to share resources with one another, such as energy collectives, housing coops, or shared mobility communities.
The Netherlands have the ambition to become a “circular economy” by 2050. This is an economic and social system in which production of raw materials and services is organised in a sustainable manner, with respect for people and the environment. Until now, the majority of the research conducted in this area is technology-drive and logistical: what technologies can be used to process residues, and how can the different flows of materials and energy be connected?
However, companies developing these technologies realise that a further step is needed: the circular economy must be translated into systems that make it attractive for people to behave in a sustainable manner. Project “Circulate” is a multi-year Design Research effort to explore how digital systems based on blockchain technologies may be used to foster participation to a circular economy in neighborhoods.
Circulate focuses specifically on the issue of “values transparency”. What underlying economic and social values should be given a role in the design of local platforms for the circular economy? How can these values be made explicit and understandable (transparent), with the ultimate goal of making neighborhoods more sustainable and liveable? With a research-through-design approach, Circulate explores the potential for small & medium companies to contribute to social transformation in the field of sustainability. With the ultimate goal of providing companies & designers with guidelines, tools and frameworks that can apply to the further development of local platforms for the circular economy.