Zone5 is a multidisciplinary design studio, focusing on the place where nature, technology, research and design meet.

We excel at telling stories with a wide range of data and materials. We express ourselves with (interactive) stories, data visualizations and physical installations. Among our clients are news media, art institutions, educators, public sector and other companies with a message.

This website is still under construction, not every project is clickable. More project pages will be added soon.

Els Engel is a journalist, designer and developer who expresses (data-)stories visually. Coming from a background in journalism and design, she adventures into programming, to investigate data and to visualize. She works for a wide range of newspapers, broadcasters and press agencies in Europe.
She is also an urban farmer and permaculture designer. She is fascinated by modern ideas about sustainability, a minimalist lifestyle and the maker culture.

Saro Van Cleynenbreugel is designer, farmer and technician. He worked for years at art institute Mediamatic as technician and frontman of the aquaponics urban farming project. He designed and built various aquaponics systems and gave dozens of workshops all over Europe for people from all over the world.
He likes to think and talk about smart and sustainable solutions, but above all, he believes that to learn is to experience.


Often, the best way to communicate an idea is to prove it. Being able to hear, smell and feel gives a lasting impression to the person watching. Zone5 investigates and demonstrates concepts regarding nature, design and technology.

Food forest >

Tiny House >

Aquaponics >

Rocket Stove

Mushroom logs


Urban Farming


Building with straw


Zone5 has a food forest in the East of the Netherlands. We use it to investigate techniques derived from permaculture.

In a food forest usefull plants grow together in a closed cycle, requiring a minimum expenditure of energy.

Permaculture appeals to us because it's built on a set of design principles. "Get the design right and watch as the work does itself..."

Of course it requires work to build, and the garden is not maintainance-free, but it's interesting to see how far one can go on the road to a self-sustaining food system.

We invite animals to promote biodiversity. The garden features a little pond full of frogs and salamanders. We also have a resident hedgehog who eats the snails from the hosta's. We use mulch to protect the soil and the life in it.


To play with sustainable and off-the-grid techniques, Zone5 designed a Very Tiny Experimental House. Building started in autumn 2018.

The house will be about 3 x 3 meters and 4 meters high. It will feature a kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms.

The house will feature a custom designed rocket stove. Next to the solar panels, this roket stove will be the at the heart of the houses utilities. It will filter rain water, heat up water to shower and provide floor heating.

We started by bringing some trees to a sawmill. They were cut down because they were in the way, so no one used them.

To be continued...


Zone5 has about ten years of experience with aquaponics. Saro manages the Mediamatic aquaponics team, Els did some communication for the project. We've given dozens of workshops all over Europe to people from all over the world.

Saro designed and built an aquaponics system at sustainable consulting company Metabolic.

After Izmir and Madrid, we recently were invited to Copenhagen to build a system and give workshops about aquaponics.


Wikipedia puts it nicely: "Visual journalism is premised upon the idea that (..) often words cannot keep pace with concepts. Visual journalism incorporates ancient symbols that resonate with humans across cultures and time and conveys meaning instantaneously at a deep level."

Graphics about the future

Voting for city council >

Rappers analyzed >

Aquaponics data >

Shopping concepts >

Airspace layout >

Aquaponics cycle

Weapons exports

Government budget >

Coffeeshop network >

Technical details aquaponics

Voting results

Coalition puzzle

Directors income >


Greece: capital injections

Hostile takeovers >


Government budget

Refugees in Europe

Property market


Jerry Vermanen, Thomas Mulder and Marije Rooze asked me to help on a data project at KRO-NCRV in Hilversum.

Jerry analized thousands of Dutch rap lyrics. The rappers were compared to other Dutch artists to see whether there are any pure hiphop characteristics.

View project at Taalbaas at KRO-NCRV


Report of our collected aquaponics data


Article on (login required) about the city council elections. After scraping the election results of the past five elections I analyzed the data and searched for interesting patterns.

It turns out there has been more variation the last few years. There are more local and single-issue parties, and the contrast between parties is bigger


Article on (login required) about the future of shopping concepts


Article on (login required) about how the Dutch layout of airspace influences the expension plans of airport Lelystad


Article on (login required) about the governments budget


Article on (NO login required) about all the Dutch coffeeshops (where you buy weed)


Interactive overview on (no login) about compensations and bonusses to directors of big companies.


Article on (login required) about how Dutch companies protect themselves from hostive takeovers.

It was connected to an article we wrote in the newspaper earlier, about how the government wanted to sell some banks they had bought to save them.


'Van Kop Tot Staart' is a card game for 2 to 20 people from 2 to 200 years. It has no rules, you can make them up yourself.

You can order your hand-made copy by sending an email with your name and address to and transferring €15,- to IBAN: NL87 TRIO 0338 7635 03, BIC: TRIONL2U using your name and 'card game' as payment information.


Zone5 is has its roots in Amsterdam, but recently moved to the tiny medieval citycentre of Hattem, Gelderland, where we will set up a big studio space.

To reach us, send an email to or contact one of us directly.

Els Engel
Visual journalist
Urban farmer

+31 6 21 58 27 69

Saro Van Cleynenbreugel
+31 6 23 91 35 35