inmidtown Habitats

Design Competition

  • Midtown Buzz honeybees, courtesy inmidtown

The Architecture Foundation ran an open and international competition that called on design teams to submit proposals for urban beehives, bird/bat-boxes and planters.

The competition was 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 called for submissions that offer distinctive yet functional designs that help enhance biodiversity in this urban context.  It was envisaged that the winning proposals will be mass-produced and installed in a variety of sites across the inmidtown area.

The competition was inspired by and 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. At the time of the competition, the Buzz project had completed its first year, with the first honey harvest collected that September.

During this first phase, it had 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 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 was not simply for beehives, but also solicits proposals for bird-boxes, bat-boxes and planters to be installed throughout the area to ensure adequate forage and pollination.

Meet the (Animal) Clients

A public event was held on 13 October in collaboration with artist, Fritz Haeg and Arup’s gallery that all entrants were encouraged to attend. This event, entitled Meet the (Animal) Clients was held as part Fritz Haeg’s ‘Animal Estates London HQ: Urban Wildlife Client Services’ in Arup’s exhibition space, Phase 2. Experts advocated for those of the 11 ‘clients’ identified by Fritz and his team that the competition catered for namely bees, the house sparrow and bats. More information can be found here.

inmidtown Bee Walks

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

Deadline for submissions was 28 November 2011 with a shortlist announcement planned January 2012.  Shortlisted designs were prototyped and displayed in February 2012 with the winner announced following the exhibition.

Winner announced

51% Studios and their Habi-Sabi design concept were selected by the jury as the winner of this competition. For more information and pictures of their designs please click here

Entries were judged by a high-profile jury that included: The Urban Birder, Writer and Broadcaster, David Lindo,  Architect and Desiger, Nigel Coates and Bee-keeping Writer, Ian Douglas.