inmidtown Habitats Competition Launched

The Architecture Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of a new open and international competition that calls on design teams to submit proposals for urban beehives, bird/bat-boxes and planters.

The competition is being organised by The AF on behalf of inmidtown, the business improvement district for the central London areas of Holborn, Bloomsbury and St. Giles. The competition calls for submissions that offer distinctive yet functional designs that help enhance biodiversity in this urban context.  It is envisaged that the winning proposals will be mass-produced and installed in a variety of sites across the inmidtown area.

The competition is inspired by and is envisaged to complement inmidtown’s existing initiative, “Midtown Buzz”, which provides free beehives and bee-keeping training to its members who wish to produce their own honey on site. The project has now completed its first year, with the first honey harvest collected this September.

 During this first phase, it has become clear to the members of the scheme that although beehives exist whose designs have stood the test of time for bees and beekeepers alike, these hives are not in fact ideal when relocated from the traditional rural context into urban areas.  As a natural continuation of the “Midtown Buzz” scheme, and in order to ensure its success and expansion, the Client has commissioned The Architecture Foundation to run this competition for a truly urban beehive.

Recognising the growing need to accommodate nature in the city and to build upon the success of the new hives around the area, the competition is not simply for beehives, but also solicits proposals for bird boxes and planters that will be installed throughout the area to ensure adequate forage and pollination.

Tass Mavrogordato, Chief Executive of inmidtown said:

“We are very excited to be running this competition with The Architecture Foundation and are keen to see how designers respond to the brief. It is important for us to improve the area not just for people but also wildlife too.  Our member businesses are firmly behind this initiative, to provide homes and added pollination through the planters, which in turn will increase the biodiversity within central London.”

Sarah Ichioka, Director, The Architecture Foundation said:

“This competition offers people the chance to produce innovative designs that set a new standard for welcoming nature into the city. The client’s commitment to produce the resultant bee-hives, bird-boxes and planters in volume make the opportunity particularly appealing.”

A public event will be held on 13 October in collaboration with artist, Fritz Haeg and Arup’s gallery that all entrants are encouraged to attend. This event, entitled Meet the (Animal) Clients will be held as part Fritz Haeg’s ‘Animal Estates London HQ: Urban Wildlife Client Services’ in Arup’s exhibition space, Phase 2. Experts will advocate for those of the 11 ‘clients’ identified by Fritz and his team that this competition caters for (namely bees, the house sparrow and the common swift) along with the needs of bats.

Fritz Haeg, artist said:

"I'm so pleased that the 'Animal Estates London HQ: Urban Wildlife Client Services' will be able to serve as a resource center and meeting place for the inmidtown Habitats competition entrants. As the latest edition of the Animal Estates series, the London headquarters at Arup Phase 2 provides a place to consider selected 'animal clients,' urban wildlife to welcome back to the city with thoughtful designs. The inmidtown Habitats competition is a promising indication of our evolving attitudes towards wildlife and city-making. I can't wait to see the responses from the competition entrants."

Entrants are also invited to attend one of inmidtown’s Bee Walks at 1pm on 12 and 14 October where they can learn more about Midtown Buzz and visit one of  the hive sites.

Deadline for submissions is 28 November 2011 with a shortlist announcement expected in January 2012.  Shortlisted designs will be prototyped and displayed in February 2012 with the winner announced following the exhibition.

Entries will be judged by a high-profile jury that includes: The Urban Birder, Writer and Broadcaster, David Lindo, Architect and Designer, Nigel Coates and Bee-keeping Writer, Ian Douglas.

Architects, designers, artists as well as those from other disciplines are invited to respond to the brief, available for download from here.