Thijs de Zeeuw is trained as a landscape architect. He graduated at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam in 2011 on the ‘(un)conditional garden’, a garden which exhibits urban wildlife. Simultaneously he worked for H+N+S Landscape Architects where he designed on the typical Dutch landscape: dikes, polders, and nature development sites.
The past eight years, Thijs designed enclosures for ARTIS, the Royal zoo of Amsterdam. Designing for ‘a client you can’t speak with’ has proved to be an ever-fascinating challenge. It has made him more and more aware of the perspective of ‘the other’.
More recently and in particular after having designed a landscape for Asian Elephants he felt the need to explore more broadly the meanings of the zoo. What is wrong with the contemporary zoo, and what could the zoo of the future be? ZOOOF was born. In collaboration with David Habets and Bart de Hartog he organized a symposium on the Zoo and the Anthropocene, and more recent, they are working on four narratives that explore possible futures for the zoo. All researches starting from a more equal relationship with the other, touching on topics like colonialism, mutual domestication, ‘wildness’, and unearthly ecologies.
Currently Thijs operates under the name of the Nature Optimist. In a wide range of projects, somehow dealing with non-human perspectives, he tries to enhance and promote a multi-species society. He teaches at the Academy of Architecture, gives talks and tours.