Reading Zoos in the Age of the Anthropocene


8 November 2019
17:15 - 19:00
Janskerkhof 2–3, room 013

Keynote: Thijs de Zeeuw, “ZOOOF, or: How to Design a Voluntary Zoo?”

ZOOOF, or:
How to Design a Voluntary Zoo?

Keynote: Thijs de Zeeuw
Moderation: Clemens Driessen

When: Friday, 8 November, 17.15–19.00
Where: Janskerkhof 2–3, room 013

Over the past eight years, landscape architect Thijs de Zeeuw has designed a number of enclosures for ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. In this talk, he will reflect on the moral implications of captivity and the challenge and necessity of imagining the perspective of the Other when designing ‘for a client you can’t speak with’. The involvement of humans in the institution and processes of animal captivity forms the basis of his speculative research and design project entitled The Zoo of the Future (ZOOOF). This project investigates various nonhuman perspectives on nature and the contemporary zoo in order to think through new and more equal relationships with the animal other at the intersection of colonialism, mutual domestication, ‘wildness’, and unearthly ecologies. The talk will conclude with a discussion of one of ZOOOF’s side projects, namely the idea of the ‘voluntary zoo’.


Thijs de Zeeuw studied landscape architecture at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, graduating in 2011 with a project on the ‘(un)conditional garden,’ i.e. a garden that exhibits urban wildlife. As part of his ZOOOF project, in 2017 he organised a symposium on the ‘Zoo and the Anthropocene’ in collaboration with David Habets and Bart de Hartog. Together they are working on four narratives exploring possible futures for the zoo. Thijs currently operates under the name of Nature Optimist. In a wide range of projects, all somehow dealing with nonhuman perspectives, he works to enhance and promote a multispecies society. He teaches at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam.