Mizzi Studio’s design, Home away from Hive, is one of three winners of a competition organised by the London Festival of Architecture and Discover South Kensington to create a series of ‘green interventions’ on London’s Exhibition Road this summer to form part of The South Kensington Green Trail. 

Mizzi Studio, in partnership with the London Science Museum, unveiled an organic, hive-like structure hailed ‘Home away from Hive’ in the centre of London’s arts and science district, supporting the post pandemic recovery of the area and promoting biodiversity.

Motivated to design an installation that would support eco-initiatives such as the Kensington & Chelsea Council’s Bee SuperHighway, Mizzi Studio envisioned a wild bee’s nest-like structure that would attract insects and wildlife back to the borough, as well as visitors.

The winning design celebrates the complex forms and structures of wild bees’ nests and strives to create a space where people and pollinators can coexist. The timber installation covers an area of 40sqm and is comprised of two distinct domed lattice structures that are linked to create three archways of differing sizes and a circular viewing window, opening views throughout the entire structure.

Inspired by insect-built structures, the undulating and tunnelling lattice promotes natural air circulation and cooling, as well as creating shaded pathways with shadows that move continuously throughout the day to create everchanging geometric pattens on the ground.

The lattice intersections create the installation’s system of integrated planters that are home to pollinator-friendly plants, which act as a playground for wild pollinators, whilst the structures curved ribs and honeycomb-like texture provide the desired aesthetic.

“Our work has always been driven and inspired by nature. Ever since we launched our studio, our designs have rested on biophilia and bio-morphism, celebrating the ingenuity of organic systems and forms. But we are now working in a climate emergency, and accordingly our focus is even more strongly driven by a desire to make positive change through design,” said Jonathan Mizzi, Director of Mizzi Studio.

“We saw this project as an opportunity to highlight the importance of respecting the planet’s ecosystem. Bees are heroic protagonists in our natural world, essential to the way humans and other living creatures are sustained. They are a vital part of our ecosystem and their role in that system is being threatened. Dedicating this installation to bringing bees and other pollinators back into our urban environment felt like a significant and urgent reason to participate in this competition. Home away from Hive therefore contributes to a wider discussion on urban re-wilding – allowing nature and wildlife to reclaim a rightful place within our built environment,” he continued.

The open call invited design proposals that would demonstrate how plants, green space and biodiversity could be creatively embedded into Exhibition Road’s public realm, reclaiming space for nature amidst the bustle of the capital and encourage visitors to South Kensington, London.

The winning installations along the Exhibition Road include ‘Algae Meadow’ by Seyi Adelekun and Wayward’s, and ‘Windflower’ by Urban Radicals and Adam Harris.  Commissioned by the Exhibition Road Cultural Group in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture, Science Museum, V&A & Goethe Institute and supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, City of Westminster and the Mayor of London, the initiative set out to support “biodiversity and the recovery of London’s arts and sciences district in South Kensington”. 

Left to right: Dr Julia Knights, Deputy Director for the Science Museum, Jonathan Mizzi, Director, Mizzi Studio; Emily Candler, Executive Director, Discover South Kensington.

During the day the Home away from Hive forms part of the welcome to the Science Museum with visitors encouraged to weave their way through the archways to the Science Museum entrance. The free-to-visit installation will be in place for everyone in London to enjoy until October, coinciding with the year of the UN international climate summit – the COP26, that the UK is hosting in Glasgow this November 2021.  

Mizzi Studio is a multidisciplinary practice specialising in Bioarchitecture and Biophilic design, dedicated to making the world a better place through inventive, climate-responsive design solutions. Made up of talented architects, interior designers and industrial designers the team believe in the power of design to enrich people’s lives and the world we live in.

The Studio has recently completed a four-year long commission for eight steam bent timber refreshment kiosks, along with the landmark Serpentine Coffee House and the Horseshoe Bend Brass Kiosk across Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park, in what is the largest mobilisation the Royal Parks have seen in 14 years. 

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