competition // architectural league folly // january 2018
A kiosk provides orientation and information while welcoming visitors to Socrates Sculpture Park. Yet must architecture only welcome humans? Can we not consider non-humans as co-occupants? BeeBox attracts multiple species with its bright color and spiky form, much like an inviting new flower. BeeBox provides inhabitation and monitoring for one of our most significant native pollinators: solitary bees. Honeyless and stingerless, solitary bee are docile and productive neighbors, yet much remains unknown about these native bees, despite their importance as the pollinators for 70% of the non-agricultural environment.
The pavilion’s paneling system houses hundreds of nesting tubes for solitary bees and a solar-powered electronic monitoring platform. BeeBox’s novel paneling system models environmental stewardship in our Anthropocene age by creating a space shared by humans and non-humans. The entry kiosk ushers in a new ecological understanding of Socrates Sculpture Park as a space for both interdisciplinary work and interspecies cohabitation.
The structure is an egg-crate framework of marine grade plywood (vertical ribs and horizontals) and concrete panels, which connect to the blocking at each corner of the structural grid. Each vertical and horizonal component comprises a double layer of ¾” plywood nailed together. The vertical ribs are bolted to a stacked plywood foundation. 160 cast concrete panels, weighing between 7-9 pounds, clad the wood structure and provide the necessary weight to counter wind load. The roof is slightly sloped to shunt rain to a corner gutter.
Technology (Bee Monitoring System)
Because it is difficult to sense the minute presence of solitary bees, BeeBox offers its human visitors a window into this tiny world through technology. Panels are equipped with motion sensors which trigger endoscopic cameras tucked under the “spine” of the panel. Thousands of photographs build a database of solitary bee images, which are processed through a machine learning system that we have been developing with the guidance of Dr. Kevin Matteson, Associate Director of Graduate Programs for Social and Ecological Change, Miami University, Ohio, and Dr. Jerome Rozen, American Museum of Natural History. We hope to contribute to the science of solitary bees with a monitoring and identification that does not rely on trapping and killing these species.
Solar panels are connected to storage batteries affixed between the ceiling beams. These batteries power interior lights as well as the bee monitoring system depicted above.
Architecture and Design: Ariane Lourie Harrison, Seth Harrison, Eileen Xu, Nai-Hua Chen, Yuxiang Chen, Zongguan Wang