Charging the Commons Project

Charging the Commons is a 2-year project, and follow-up of Circulate (more info below), that investigates the design of digital platforms for resource communities.

For an urban commons to function well, a clear articulation and implementation of its underlying (societal) values is essential. Charging the Commons explores how a situated-design approach can help to elicit these values. In addition, the project examines how these values can be translated into the design of digital platforms to collaboratively manage an urban commons’ resources. These questions are explored in field labs in Amersfoort and Amsterdam, focusing on housing cooperatives and
community car sharing.

We see these activities as part of a broader ‘be-commoning’ (design) process in which new urban commons are initiated, usually in a collaboration between citizens and professionals.

Charging the Commons is financed by Regieorgaan SIA – RAAK-mkb.

Research Team:

AUAS – Civic Interaction Design Research Group

  • Dr. Martijn de Waal (Professor)
  • Jorgen Karskens (Project Manager)
  • Zsuzsanna Tomor (Researcher)
  • Micky van Zeijl (liaison with student projects)

Avans – Situated Art & Design Research Group

  • Dr. Michel van Dartel (Professor)
  • Tara Karpinski (researcher-designer)
  • Cecilia Hendrikx (researcher)

Stay up to date with the project via our newsletters below

Newsletter #1 – JUL 2022
Newsletter #2 – JAN 2023
Newsletter #3 – DEC 2023


Circulate Project

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.

Circulate was financed by Regieorgaan SIA – RAAK-mkb.

Research Team:

AUAS – Play & Civic Media Research Group

  • Dr. Martijn de Waal (Professor)
  • Wouter Meys (Project Manager)
  • Dr. Gabriele Ferri (Researcher)
  • Dr. Ben Schouten (Professor)

AUAS – Urban Analytics Research Group

  • Dr. Nanda Piersma (Professor)

AUAS – Digital Life Research Group

  • Dr. Nazli Cil (Senior researcher)

AUAS – Institute of Network Cultures

  • Inte Gloerich (Researcher)