This lakeside apiary in Newt, Somerset has been designed to provide a home for the bees while creating an immersive educational experience. Called Beezantium, it draws on the long tradition of pavilions that evoke a sense of whimsy and playfulness – almost like a cabin in the woods full of speaking bees! Beezantium was built with a careful range of design considerations to serve and exhibit the hive in an organic yet fun way.
Beezantium occupies a former unused wasteland that has been transformed into a natural expanse, so while this waterfront property might have been cheap with the right design and purpose it’s now prime! The wooden structure is topped by a sloping roof that is wrapped in copper shingles which creates a jewel-like effect that also acts as a beacon in the woodland surroundings, drawing visitors towards the structure. It looks like a cozy cottage right out of a storybook.
The huge picturesque window invites people to explore the internal workings of the space, while also offering views out over the lake and trees beyond. The cabin is clad in oversized timber panels which distort the sense of scale of the pavilion as you get closer. The outside walls are made up of unseasoned oak because it is perfect for bees as they can enter the hive through natural holes or via a series of copper pipes that have been built into the fabric of the structure.
When you enter the space, you realize that the traditional concept of the folly is turned on its head. The interior features polished honey oak which provides a rich and warm atmosphere to enjoy the exhibit and the bees themselves. Two oculi are set into a lofty ceiling, providing much-needed light and natural ventilation for the space below. Beezantium is different because usually apiaries are usually contained in a glass box in the middle of the room but by pushing it to the edges, it was possible to create an educational showcase in collaboration with Kossmanndejong which is an Amsterdam-based design agency that focuses on the exhibition and interior architecture.
“The Beezantium has been designed to provide a sensory, otherworldly experience. It appears jewel-like, quirky, and playful – almost like a folly in a landscape with a glowing copper roof, but instead of being only about pleasure, the Beezantium is a purposeful building designed to house bees in observation hives in the external walls, that can be viewed in a range of habitats internally. There is a huge extraordinary interactive and immersive exhibit that describes the world from the bee’s perspective, that is hung from the ceiling and contained within a honeycomb structure, enabling visitors to understand bees and their place in the world,” says Piers Taylor, Director of Invisible Studio.
All elements, shapes, and colors have been designed to represent bees. My personal favorite is the bright cocoon seating which probably makes you feel like a bee in a hive yourself! Beezantium has a whimsical vibe with a purpose – it aims to conserve and educate people through the medium of design, architecture, and interior which is all centered around bees while making humans feel welcome but also reminding them of the larger picture without the gloom-and-doom tactic.
Designer: Invisible Studio