Reimagining Zorrotzaurre through circular and collaborative economy

Students from Mondragon University will develop solutions based on circular business models to redistribute resources, create local jobs and mitigate waste 

In a society where resources are limited and mass consumption has to come to an end, how can we leverage the potential of temporary uses to foster more ethical production and consumption models? As part of Zorrotzaurre’s T-Factor Pilot, students from the Degree in Digital Humanities of Mondragon University will devise responses to the challenge of creating resource sharing systems that supports sustainable development and conviviality in the neighborhood. The learning module is being developed with the collaboration of grassroots initiatives and local and international partners of T-Factor. 

Experts from different disciplines will accompany the students through the process of designing and building innovative solutions in response to local challenges. In the case of Zorrotzaurre, the neighborhood faces specific problems such as construction waste, informal recycling networks that use the neighborhood as a deposit, and disconnection of the different grassroots initiatives with the local residents. At the same time, the area presents opportunities such as the availability of tools and materials, vacant spaces and workshops among grassroots initiatives that operate on the island, and the knowledge of these initiatives related to recycling and reusing of materials.

Through the academic course that just started, the students will develop prototypes, processes and business models that reimagine Zorrotzaurre’s communities, fabrication paths or waste management systems, based on the principles of circular, collaborative and sharing economy. The prototypes will be developed through a critical approach and co- creation methodologies, with a focus on how circular business models and practices could redistribute resources, create local jobs and mitigate waste. As a starting point, T-Factor team shared some inspiring examples related to circularity, such as apps to reintroduce into the market surplus quality food, spots to give away furniture among neighbors or workshops to learn how to repair, among many others.


International Lectures

  • Digital Social Innovation, with Jorge García, Tecnalia. An overview of human-centered design and digital design thinking tools to develop social innovation projects. This keynote will take students on a journey to understanding how putting people at the center of design processes helps to meet their needs by prioritizing social impact over technocentric visions. 


  • Design Global, Manufacture Local: the case of Tzoumakers, with Dr. Vasilis Niaros. This lecture will present a convivial technology development framework using the concept of “cosmolocal” production.  Students will explore the case of Tzoumakers, a community and makerspace in Greece, and present its relation and cooperation with various similar interconnected places in urban and rural settings. 


  • Circular Economy, with Blanca Calvo-Boixet. Circular economy is increasingly becoming mainstream as awareness around environmental issues increases. Students will learn the basic principles of circular economy as well as different ways in which these can be put in practice to make cities more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.


Key learnings objectives

The ultimate goal of the learning module is to foster creative thinking and innovative design methodologies in address to the topic of circular economy at neighborhood level. Upon the completion of the module, students will develop the following knowledge and skills:

  • Create environments of trust and development through active listening, assertiveness, observation and authentic communication. 
  • Collect and analyze data to prepare a diagnosis on the distribution of resources in the area.
  • Identify real problems in urban contexts as a starting point for the design of new alternatives.
  • Design technology-based proposals that incorporate sustainable human development.
  • Design and create technological prototypes to alleviate socioeconomic needs of citizens.
  • Devise and create prototypes of solutions aimed at promoting equality, equity and sustainability in the context of the digital society.


The learning module “Circular economy and resilience at neighborhood level” is one of the three training processes that will be developed during this academic year in three Universities located in the city of Bilbao, as part of T-Factor’s Zorrotzaurre pilot. In the development of the prototypes, students will be encouraged to find strategic synergies with the other groups of students involved, respectively, in the other two learning modules that will be developed within the pilot: Urban Design for Sociality and Wellbeing, with IED Kunsthal, and on Climate adaptation and resilience at neighborhood level, with Deusto University. With these collaborations, the objective is to strengthen the innovativeness and viability of the prototypes and foster creative thinking between students.