Shortly after our Bicycle Shelter project was complete, we had a workshop week at the architectural school, in which three different architects, from Denmark, Sweden and Norway respectivly, were invited to give us three different types of assignments, all focusing on our speciality: Sustainable architecture. All five education years (bachelors and masters) participated in the workshop week, and we were divided into three greater groups - one for each architect. Once in our groups, we were furthermore scattered into six minor groups, each focusing on different assignments within the main assignment. Our assignment leading architect was Cord Siegel from Hauschild-Siegel Architects.
The greater theme of our project, was to create an agriculturally productive building, that also includes 12 apartments for agriculturally interested citydwellers (urbanfarmers). The six different groups were given different assignments based on different types of agriculture. My group was given a rather different type of production, that is usually not very common amongst urban agricultural structures - An urban apiary and honey production building. Our group quickly learned the frightening facts of the amounts of plants needed to produce but the slightest amounts of honey (it takes several hundreds of thousands of flowers to produce less than 30kg of honey pr. season!), and therefore we decided to furthermore divide ourselves into yet two smaller groups. The idea of this, was that one of the groups would focus on a realistic production of honey and bee's wax, placing large apiary systems amongst living quarters in areas with vast ecological areas, while the other group would place no more than a single beehive, and create a structure that exhibits the ridicilous amounts of plants needed to support honey and bee's wax production in just a single hive!
In order to fit the 100.000's of needed plants and flowers, the easiest solution for us, was to plant them in a vertical direction, where the entire exterior facade is covered in vegetation. Amongst the 50 meter high vegetational tower, are 12 prefab apartment units of the size 120 square meters, placed between the vegetational planes, and sticking out from the structure. The irony of our structure, is that despite focusing on sustainable design, our tower can be said to be quite the opposite! In order to just water the plants, we have had to use just about every possible technology of water purification to be able to reuse water, so that ridicilous amounts of watering water is nulified. Our structure gathers rainwater, reuses all of the structure's water usuage - even graywater, and last but not least, it even gathers the plants' dew and evaporation! All these methods are used, so the building's bees have enough plantation to be able to produce no more than 35kgs of honey pr. year!
We have furthermore fixed an elevator and staircase system within the vegetational skyscraper, that allows the inhabitants to move freely through the structure in bee-free isolated areas. Each apartment floor furthermore has its own garden area, which is also isolated from the bees, and where the dwellers have direct access to bridge systems that follow the buildings facade, where the inhibatants can take care of the plants, and also admire the many bees (just about 10 bees pr. square meter) that roam trough the un-isolated areas (assuming it's a structure for beekeepers, we believe that the inhabitants would have interest in observing the bees).
To sum things up, our project was, well, in many ways rather extreme. Our sister group that focused on a realistic honey production, that fortunately create a functional structure that managed to create several tons of honey and bee's wax pr. year, so perhaps it is a realistic productional concept. Our group however, intentionally aimed at failing a realistic production, since our focus was rather to illustrate to the public, how much vegetation is actually required for mere 35kgs of honey! As a matter of fact, our bee hive stands at the floor level of the building, in a way that it stands almost as a sacred relic, illustrating how much bees actually work, to produce so little. Of course, such a structure is ridicilously unpractical, and far from realistic, but the challenge of making such a project function in a "sustainable" manner, was the greatest lesson to be learned!
- Andy Minchev