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 @ Mediamatic >

Aquaponics @ Metabolic

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.


Zone5 is designing and planning a fully off-the-grid self-sustaining Very Tiny House. Building will start 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.

Rain water will be filtered, power will come from solar panels and heating and cooking will be done with a small rocket stove.


Zone5 has been around at Mediamatic for years. Saro manages the aquaponics team, Els did some communication for the project. We've given dozens of workshop all over Europe to people from all over the world.


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."

Voting for city council >

Rappers analyzed >

Aquaponics data >

Shopping concepts >

Airspace layout

Aquaponics cycle

Weapons exports

Government budget in context

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 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 about the future of shopping concepts


Zone5 is based in Amsterdam

Els Engel
Visual journalist
Urban farmer

+31 6 21 58 27 69

Saro Van Cleynenbreugel
+31 6 23 91 35 35