Bottom-up neuroscience aims to engineer well-defined networks of neurons to investigate the functions of the brain. By reducing the complexity of the brain to achievable target questions, such in vitro bioassays better control experimental variables and can serve as a versatile tool for fundamental and pharmacological research. Astrocytes are a cell type critical to neuronal function, and the addition of astrocytes to neuron cultures can improve the quality of in vitro assays. Here, we present cellulose as an astrocyte culture substrate. Astrocytes cultured on the cellulose fiber matrix thrived and formed a dense 3D network. We devised a novel co-culture platform by suspending the easy-to-handle astrocytic paper cultures above neuronal networks of low densities typically needed for bottom-up neuroscience. There was significant improvement in neuronal viability after 5 days in vitro at densities ranging from 50,000 cells/cm2 down to isolated cells at 1,000 cells/cm2. Cultures exhibited spontaneous spiking even at the very low densities, with a significantly greater spike frequency per cell compared to control mono-cultures. Applying the co-culture platform to an engineered network of neurons on a patterned substrate resulted in significantly improved viability and almost doubled the density of live cells. Lastly, the shape of the cellulose substrate can easily be customized to a wide range of culture vessels, making the platform versatile for different applications that will further enable research in bottom-up neuroscience and drug development.