Pannel Discussion | Charging the Commons: Relational interface for more-than-human commons | June 13, 2024

Former car park, now urban food forest Urbaniahoeve in Amsterdam. Relational interface for more-than-human commons. Photo: Patricia de Ruijter –

Thursday, June 13th | 19:30 | Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

Nieuwe Instituut Zoรถp, together with the research and design initiatives Charging the Commons and Dark Matter Lab, is organising a panel discussion to explore how design can contribute to the technological and organisational conditions of a more-than-human consciousness. What kind of โ€˜relational interfacesโ€™ can help us to imagine relationships with each other, different life forms and the planet that are based on stewardship and the common good, rather than domination and ownership?

The current ecological crisis can be traced back to humanityโ€™s distorted understanding of the world around it, with its human-centred notions of ownership, control and domination. How can we re-imagine these relationships to acknowledge the deeply intertwined connections we humans have with each other and with the more-than-human world, from living things to planetary systems? And how can we approach these relationships in a spirit of stewardship and mutual benefit?


  • Moderator Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (researcher at the Nieuwe Instituut and Zoรถp initiator) welcomes the participants and introduces the topic.
  • Martijn de Waal (head of the Civic Interaction Design) research group at the AUAS) explains relational technology and relational interfaces on behalf of Charging the Commons.
  • Designer-researcher Yin Aiwen introduces the relational board game Liquid Dependencies.
  • Fang-Jui Chang and Calvin Po present some examples of relational interfaces that Dark Matter Labs is using to promote an alternative civic economy.
  • The guest speakers will then discuss challenges around cultural change, including ownership, governance and self-management, and conflict mediation.
  • Finally, a Q&A session invites the audience to contribute to the discussion.

The evening will present three proposals for relational interfaces โ€“ social and technological infrastructures, models and protocols โ€“ to help put new theories of the commons into practice. How do we organise a commons that includes more-than-humans? And, moving from bounded territories to relational networks, how do we reconcile the situatedness and unboundedness of ecosystems?

The programme is a public event, that also serves as an introduction to the Relational Interfaces Workshop taking place on Friday June 14th.

The evening is co-organized with AUAS – Civic Interaction Design Research Group, Dark Matter Labs and [urban interfaces] the Utrecht University Focus Areaย Governing the Digital Society and Nieuwe Instituut –ย as part of the Charging the Commons project.