Zoo of the Future

het Glazen Huis, March 14 – April 12, 2020
Thijs de Zeeuw, David Habets, Bart de Hartog, Ira Koers

From 14 March to 12 April 2020, Zone2Source is presenting the Zoo of the Future project in collaboration with ZOOOF. The Glass House is being converted into a fictional zoo facility, with a large zoo model in it. By looking at human-animal relationships from a number of different perspectives, designers develop new proposals for the zoo of the future.

The exhibition also includes the video work Progress vs Sunsets by Melanie Bonajo and live-stream images from the model. Visitors can think along about the zoo of the future and write a letter to a zoo animal. There is a program with expert meetings, a public closing debate on 5 April and workshops for children on Wednesday 25 March and 1 April.

More information below the image.

Zoo of the Future, image: ZOOOF

Zoo of the Future, image: ZOOOF

“Considering the implications of a new geological epoch, it is about time we review the way we look at animals. And what better place to look at animals than the zoo? By looking at human-nature relationships from a number of different perspectives we develop a number of (counter-) proposals for the non-human habitats in the contemporary zoo”.

ZOOF is a long term artistic research project in which the changing relation between men and nature is explored with the zoo of the future as a test garden. The objective of ZOOF is to instigate public debate and make people think of the question: “How do we want to live together in the future with the animals in the city?”.  For the first time the ZOOF maquette is being shown (a plaster model of 320×160 cm) which forms the heart of a spatial installation, a fictive animal enclosure (with plants and wood from the Amstelpark). A ‘future without zoo’and a ‘zoo without animals”can coexist alongside an ‘interplanetary zoo” and “the city as zoo”. The sometimes provocative proposals evoke tot think about the changing meaning of cohabitation with animals in the city.

Besides the maquette a selection of video and drawings are shown, such as Progress vs Sunsets of Melanie Bonajo and live stream images of the maquette. Visitors are being asked  to write a letter to zoo animals. Which future would you like to wish for an animal? The letters are being collected and during the exhibition shown as a growing work. Around this installation we organize together with ZOOF a series of public and expert meetings for young and old and a closing debate with various guests such as Dirk Sijmons, Barbara Visser, Haig Balian, Rivke Jaffe and Eva Meijer.

Narratives as means of imagination

The maquette is build around four narratives which unrafle the complexity of the contemporary zoo and gives space to reflect on transformation.

1.The garden of giraffes
The zoo is the result of Western colonial desire for expansion and collection. This does not only express itself in the animal collection but also in the architectural classifications of the zoo. The zoo of the future explores ways to change these power relations between human and animal.

2. The Wild Zoo
The wild zoo throws the viewers back on their intuition, the wildness within. It starts from the commonalities between human and animal instead of the differences. In this zoo you will need all your senses, you yourself will be an animal again.

3. The (un)Earthly zoo
‘We’re staying with the trouble… anywhere in the universe.’ The (un)Earthly zoo explores the unimaginable by revealing the extraterrestrial on earth: what do extremophiles tell us about our own changing nature?

4. The city as zoo
What does the city look like if we consider it as a zoo? If infrastructure is also for animals; if the urban soil is made accessible again for life and the street become parks?

During the course of the project it has appeared that this narrative way of research stimulates peoples’ fantasy. New zoos have sprung up around other narratives such as the ‘voluntary zoo’ (with Clemens Driessens), ‘The parliamentary  zoo’(workshop UvA), the psychedelic zoo (during a workshop with the EAZA and Aldo Hakman).

Program (subject to change)

– all weekends open to the public from 15 March to Sunday 12 April
– various meetings with students and experts on weekdays (closed)
– Zoo staff day (closed)
– children’s workshops on Wednesdays March 25 and April 1. Program follows
– final debate on Sunday 5 April from 2 to 5 p.m. with Dirk Sijmons, Barbara Visser, Haig Balian, Rivke Jaffe and Eva Meijer.

To register for workshops and if you are interested in visiting the exhibition with a group (students, colleagues, specialists) for a substantive meeting, please contact info@zone2source.net


ZOOOF was founded by Bart de Hartog, David Habets and Thijs de Zeeuw and is constantly expanding their multispecies network. In 2018, they created a website to record their works. They expressed that for them, “the zoo is a starting point and an experimental garden to study the relationship with other non-humans and humans. It is a focal point of study and knowledge about the behaviour and interaction between animals and humans. It is also the place where our troubled relationship among species and cultures reflect itself in its sharpest form.”

The narratives, maquette and works are the result of a three year project that is supported by the Stimuleringsfonds and Stichting Stokroos (2017-2020). More info can be found on www.zooofthefuture.com

Zoo of the Future, image: ZOOOF

Zoo of the Future, image: ZOOOF