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Launch: Ener-geyser by Tara Karpinski, at Schoonschip, in Amsterdam

This past year, Caradt researcher Tara Karpinski worked embedded at Schoonschip – the most sustainable floating community in Europe. On the 8th of March, she launched the Ener-geyser there.

 The design intervention/research tool is a 6-meter-high variable data-fountain, in situ. 
The fountain empowers households to make choices about when to tap energy from the shared system, in order to meet their agreed sustainability goals.

The Ener-geyser visualizes the abundance of energy, in real time. Schoonschip is a resource community that produces most of their own energy, using sustainable technologies, like solar. This energy flows over a ‘smart grid’– a communally owned battery system, managed by a blockchain algorithm.

The data-fountain both helps community members make decisions about when it is optimal to turn on/off appliances, and studies how and when they make these choices.

By looking out the window, households can quickly observe the current energy situation. When the fountain sprays high, there is an abundance of energy, so it is optimal to turn on appliances. A medium to low spray indicates caution, as demand is headed toward a peak. When the fountain is less than a meter high, there is a peak – thus it is not optimal to use energy. The Ener-geyser is 6m at its highest, and 0,5m at its lowest.

The Ener-geyser pilot is designed to test new ways of interpreting complex data – that extend beyond traditional dashboard interfaces. The fountain’s main purpose is to catalyse discussion about tracking, manging and negotiating the energy-collective’s goals. These kinds of discussions form the basis for making complex decisions, that can define how the algorithm can be tweaked in the future. It also examines how households balance choice making, based on their own attitudes and needs, versus sustainability goals defined by the resource community.

This research is being carried out under the direction of the research group Civic Interaction Design, at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA).

Design Thinking for the Circular Economy

This research project explores the question of whether situated design methods can contribute to value transparency in the design of local platforms for the circular economy. 

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‘My practice is situated in between different actors, in this shape-shifting middle many things can happen.’

Tara Karpinski is a designer, researcher and educator working in the realm of social practice. She holds a BA in photography and art history from the Savannah College of Art & Design (USA), and an MA from the Sandberg Instituut (NL). Her Master studies were funded by a Netherland-America Foundation grant.

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