IKEA's SPACE10 launches 'Bee Home' as a free and open source design

On World Bee Day (May 20), SPACE10 presents a DIY step-by-step guide for people to design and digitally fabricate a home for ecologically vital solitary bees.

by Zohra Khan Published on : May 20, 2020

SPACE10 has launched 'Bee Home' – an open source project that allows anyone to design a customisable habitat for bees, which can further be fabricated locally by using a CNC milling machine.

The IKEA research and design lab collaborated with interior and product designer Tanita Klein and digitally-led studio Bakken & Bæck from Oslo to create this online platform.

A variety of multi-storey 'Bee Home'  | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
A variety of multi-storey 'Bee Home' Image Credit:Courtesy of SPACE10 and Irina Boersma

Coinciding with the United Nations World Bee Day (May 20), 'Bee Home' has been conceived as a friendly habitat for solitary bees that contribute to one third of the food we eat but is largely overlooked and not known by many. Unlike honeybees that constitute only a small subset of the bee family, solitary bees do not live in hives nor do they produce honey or are armed with deadly stings. Their importance can be understood from the fact that each such bee is equivalent to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides.

Solitary bees are excellent pollinators and they comprise about 90 percent of the bee family | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
Solitary bees are excellent pollinators and they comprise about 90 percent of the bee family Image Credit: Courtesy of SPACE10

While bees are crucial for the ecosystem, they are constantly under threat of extinction. Thus, taking action with a democratic design approach, SPACE10 looks ahead to empower the general public by making them part in a fun and intuitive process to create home for these bees.

"For almost 80 years, IKEA has enabled people to create a better everyday life at home. But our home is more than just four walls — our home is also the planet we live on. That is why we launch Bee Home: we want to enable people everywhere to help rebalance our relationship with the planet and ensure a sustainable home for all of us,” explains Kaave Pour, Director SPACE10.

The various prototypes of 'Bee Home' from the designers' desk  | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
The various prototypes of 'Bee Home' from the designers' desk Image Credit: Courtesy of SPACE10 and Niklas Adrian Vindelev

The process of creating your personal bee home begins by choosing a size, height and a visual expression that can be customised into the final assembly and placed either in a garden, backyard or balcony. (A step by step guide to design a bee home is illustrated and available for download here.

01 min watch A stop motion video showing assembly of a 'Bee Home'  | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
A stop motion video showing assembly of a 'Bee Home' Courtesy of SPACE10 and Irina Boersma

With help from a local makerspace, the final design can be digitally fabricated using hard wood such as oak, cedar, larch or mahogany. Once built, the Bee Home can be placed outside in spring where it should face the morning sun and be within 300 m of flowers.

"The solitary bee is friendly. They don’t produce honey, so they have nothing to protect, which makes them great guests that can easily be around your kids and pets. The males don’t even have a sting,” says the design team at SPACE10.

Optimised holes for bees to feel at home  | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
Optimised holes for bees to feel at home Image Credit: Courtesy of SPACE10 and Niklas Adrian Vindelev

From elimination of glue and other toxic adhesives down to the specific dimensions of the holes - the project is backed by an extensive research to understand the needs of many native bees.

 CNC Milling machine cutting holes in the modules | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
Designer Tania Klein at the shopImage Credit: Courtesy of SPACE10 and Niklas Adrian Vindelev

The whole process has been kept quite simple. Inspired by Japanese wooden joinery, multiple storeys of the Bee Home can be interlocked through a spine and key system. Also, keeping the assembly simple and easy to recycle, the designers have avoided using any tools, nails or metal fixing.

CNC Milling machine cutting holes in the modules  | Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
CNC Milling machine cutting holes in the modules Image Credit: Courtesy of SPACE10 and Niklas Adrian Vindelev

“It was important for me that Bee Home is aesthetically pleasing and almost feels like you have added a sculpture to your garden or your balcony. This project really exemplifies how design can do good for both people and their environment," comments Copenhagen-based Tanita Klein.

Bee Home as a simple sculpture to one's garden \ Bee Home | SPACE10 | STIRworld
'Bee Home' as a simple sculpture to one's garden Image Credit: Courtesy of SPACE10 and Brendan Austin

SPACE10, which has previously presented pioneering research around the future of digital fabrication and nuances of forthcoming augmented reality interactions, brings yet another inventive concept, which brings design not only to address a global issue but also as a medium that is accessible to everyone.

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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