habi sabi Wildlife Habitats /


51% Studios’ prototype beehive, the winning design of inmidtown’s ‘Habitat’ competition, is currently installed on the 7th floor of the Olswang offices on High Holborn.  It is being put to the test to ensure that the bees are productive and able to thrive in their new environment.  Later in the Summer, the hive – if proved successful – will be rolled out to replace all the other hives in the area, and will be used for new sites going forwards.  inmidtown will subsequently introduce other elements of the habi sabi collection. 


The ‘inmidtown Habitats’ competition was launched in the Autumn 2011 on behalf of inmidtown by The Architecture Foundation.  It called upon design teams to submit proposals for wildlife habitats suitable for the varying terrains across the district, including green spaces, rooftops, and commercial terraces.  The competition was inspired by the Midtown Buzz scheme, which provided free beehives and bee-keeping training to inmidtown members who wished to produce their own honey.  The success of this scheme led to demand for a new type of beehive that successfully brought bees from their traditional rural context into urban areas. 


Three shortlisted designs were exhibited earlier this year at Central Saint Giles, where visitors were able to vote for their favourite submission.  The winning design, habi sabi by 51% Studiosis a rooftop family of flat pack objects made from a single material and needing only two tools to assemble – a mallet and a screwdriver.  The suite of habitats consists of a swift and bat box, beehive and planter, all constructed from Barsmark PT-200, a material made by recycling the linings and fibres of cars, fridges and insulation products.  It provides weathering and weight advantages over steel and timer and ages a soft, golden brown.


The habi sabi collection is designed to provide food and water in addition to shelter for birds, bats and insects.  The planter is augmented with a tiny pool to provide water for visiting wildlife, which spills over onto a gravel tray, leaving traces of moisture for plants and invertebrates.  This series of micro habitat landscapes provides a truly useful resource for urban wildlife.


If you would like to consider hosting a swift box or hive, do contact inmidtown’s Mitch by email or telephone 020 7078 7077.  In the meantime, get a feel of what goes on elsewhere by checking out the swift box webcams at www.swift-conservation.org/hot_links2.htm.


“Sim­ple and easy to install, we par­tic­u­larly liked the fact this col­lec­tion had a sys­tem for col­lect­ing rain water for birds and bees to drink, and also included a rub­ble tray that the water drips onto to cre­ate tiny pools. Grav­elly, brown­field habi­tat is really impor­tant to a host of crea­tures in Lon­don, includ­ing rare insects.” The Lon­don­ist BY HELENBABBS · MARCH 28, 2012


“All of the units are clev­erly designed so you would only need a mal­let and a screw­driver to com­plete the whole job of putting them together and installing them. They’re intended for flat roofs, yards and oth­er­wise inac­ces­si­ble walls — just the sort of out-of-the-way crevices that peo­ple tend to for­get about but could pro­vide valu­able homes for wild birds, bats and insects.” The Tele­graph BY IAN DOUGLAS · MAY 2, 2012

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