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Caradt & SIA RAAK project: Charging the Commons

Charging the Commonsarrow is a research project led by Amsterdam University of Applied Arts (HvA), with Caradt as a main consortium partner. The project will be carried out between April 2022 and March 2024.

This project is a follow-up to the recently concluded SIA RAAK project, Design Thinking for the Circular Economy, in which Caradt also participated.

Design Thinking for the Circular Economyarrow

The Circulate Project | 2 year updatearrow

Caradt’s research share is now twice as large as it was for the first project. Charging the Commons describes its theme and goals as follows: ‘Towards a situated design approach for the development of digital ledger technologies to empower resource communities.’

Charging the Commons

Charging the Commons: Towards a situated design approach for the development of digital ledger technologies to empower resource communities

The Netherlands faces a number of challenges in the coming decades: the climate crisis, growing socio-economic inequality, and a divided society. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as administrators and economists, see an opportunity to address these issues by combining recent social and technological developments: a renewed interest in the urban commons as an inclusive organisational form for local economies, and the emergence of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) that can facilitate such common projects. The SMEs involved in the consortium want to contribute to the above-mentioned societal challenges by developing new forms of living together and by creating social value. They work with residents to develop urban commons initiatives: communities of city dwellers jointly managing resources in a sustainable and prosocial manner. This could be a collective that is formed for the installation of solar panels, or a neighbourhood car-share, or communities of residents working with architects and developers to evolve new shared housing concepts. Many projects focus on urgent issues such as energy transition, affordable housing, or the circular use of raw materials. Another term for these commons projects is resource communities. SME partners indicate that many resource communities still have some way to go when it comes to effectively managing their urban resources. Another issue for SMEs is that of economies of scale: while there are many small-scale commons initiatives, they are different resource communities, with different underlying value systems. How, then, might these initiatives come together to increase their impact and social earning power? The use of digital technologies such as DLTs is seen by researchers and developers as a possible tool for making resource communities more effective. DLTs, like blockchains, are decentralised, tamper-proof databases with a timestamp. They allow multiple parties, working peer-to-peer across a network, to capture, verify and share data in a synchronised and transparent manner. They require limited human intervention and they reduce the number of intermediate steps that are needed in the process. Through the use of smart contracts, mutual agreements can be swiftly executed and automatically implemented. These features make it possible to track, monitor and visualise the contributions and withdrawals of individual members of resource communities, and to record rights and agreements within automated procedures.

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‘Almost everything I design is based on giving form to the invisible.’

Tara Karpinski is a researcher within the Situated Art and Design research group, and a tutor at the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. 

Tara Karpinski arrow

Research Group: Situated Art and Design

Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a situated turn in art and design through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry.

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