Kenniscentrum faculteit Digitale Media & Creatieve Industrie

Circulate: Design thinking for the Circular Economy


Circulate is a research project that explores how digital systems based on blockchain technologies can be used to foster participation in circular economies, in neighborhoods.

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. Hopefully, this will result in a number of tools, scenarios and design principles that companies can apply to the further development of local platforms for the circular economy.

Project Lead

Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Civic Interaction Design

Financed by


Research Partners

Situated Art and Design at Avans Hogeschool, University of Northumbria School of Design; University of Edinburgh Centre for Design Informatics; Hogeschool van Amsterdam Urban Technology; Hogeschool van Amsterdam Urban Management; EU COST Action action From Sharing to Caring: Examining Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy; H2020 Research Project Commonfare.

Project Partners

Metabolic, Enki Energy, Café de Ceuvel, Spectral, Space & Matter, Stipo, One Architecture, Crowdbuilding, City of Amsterdam CTO office, Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Het Nieuwe Instituut.

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21 juli 2022

Project Info

Startdatum 01 jan 2018
Einddatum 31 dec 2020


Gabriele Ferri
Wouter Meys