Nature as teacher of the arts

Natura Artis Magistra


Hi there! We are the ARTIS Living Lab Circularity. From September 2019 untill April 2020, we've worked on researching circularity in ARTIS. 

On this website, you can find everything about our living lab process, our results and activities.

If you wish to take a look at our products of process, you can find them below.


Living Lab Products

Here, you will find all of our Living Lab Products


Living Lab Process

Here, you can read about how we got to our final products


Papermaking at home

Are you inspired by our products? Follow these easy steps and make your own paper at home!

Our living lab & product

This living lab is inspired by the name of ARTIS, in full this is, ARTIS Natura Magistra - Nature as the teacher of arts. We believe that nature is the best teacher for almost everything, and we should listen and look to her when coming with innovations. We strive to look at nature  not only as the teacher of arts, but also of design, innovation, the circular economy and, let’s just say it, sustainable cities! 

The concept of waste does not even exist in nature, end products of the one are beginnings of others. Waste  is something that we have made up to make our lives a lot easier! Just think about it, without plastic our fruits and vegetables would have a shorter shelf life and without our sewer system we would have to take care of our feces ourselves, JUK!. The concept of waste is deeply embedded in our cultures and habits, it takes an important role in many systems and processes that are dealt with on a daily basis. With waste being a component of many systems and processes in the Anthropocene the change in perspective on waste cannot be changed through a single event or product, it is about creating momentum that comes from the accumulation of small wins. 


Our Living Lab is a small win towards a more circular waste system by telling the story of making something valuable out of our ultimate waste, dung.

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Product criteria of our living lab

In collaboration with our living lab owner and from our personal learning goals we came to the following criteria for our product. The product has to be a socio-technical, interactive and educational product for ARTIS. Whilst we did not know what the product might be when we created these criteria, they helped shape our position in the process of a Living Lab. They make our key stakeholders more clear and easier to approach. Throughout the process, these criteria created a benchmark for evaluating product-ideas. 

Circularity as a framework

From the briefing, the goal of the product was circularity. In general, our living lab adds to the co-creation of a circular and sustainable cities. However, taking circularity as a product criterion creates difficulties in assessing your product since circularity lacks a clear and measurable definition for a single product development. Our living lab product does not have circularity as a goal or product criteria because this is beyond the boundaries of our living lab. A single living lab in ARTIS is not able to create circularity, or to improve ARTIS’ circularity by 10%. Having circularity in our briefing did give us guidance in where to start our process. It also gives you a framework in which we should think, when creating a product. Like the in- and outflow of our product and the localization of materials and knowledge about our product.



ARTIS is at the heart of Amsterdam. With a history beginning in 1838, ARTIS remains a must visit for the many tourists visiting the city, and remains equally beloved by ‘de Amsterdammer’. Through time ARTIS transformed from a pure animal attraction, where animals had minimal space to live, into a more animal-friendly nature institute. The aim is not to just showcase the populair big animals but to educate visitors about all nature from the smallest systems (microbes) to the largest systems in nature (space). With over 700 types of trees ARTIS is one of the greenest, most quiet and darkest spots in Amsterdam. ARTIS is thus not just a zoo but it shows a diverse multi-faceted nature.

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ARTIS as living lab location

ARTIS provides a good spatial location for a living lab because the boundaries of the zoo are well-defined by a gate with a main entrance point. These boundaries make it clear where our research goes spatially. Organisationally, the desire to function as a knowledge institute about nature, showing the smallest to the biggest is already present in the company. Through this motto, stories contributing to sustainability are in line with their ambitions. Socially, the influence of innovations in ARTIS reaches outside of the spatial boundaries since ARTIS is of huge significance for the city of Amsterdam. On a social level ARTIS provides us with a wide range of stakeholders. Not only showing wide variety in visitors of the park but also in the employees of ARTIS. During our living lab many stakeholders were involved, from sustainability managers to the gardeners and volunteers, all already present at location. As a living lab, a wide range of stakeholders and thus knowledge is necessary to create a fitting solution for the problem. By putting them in conversation with each other, not only the product was co-created but also the problem was developed that was ARTIS specific.