The Hive, Kew Gardens

Designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress and centrepiece of the UK Pavilion Milan Expo 2015, The Hive was reassembled at Kew Gardens in London and opened to the public on 18 June 2016. This pavilion highlights the role of the humble honeybee as a key pollinator of crops and the current risks to the well-being of the apian population. Buttress observes:

“Bees are incredibly sensitive to subtle variations and changes in conditions and their environment… so the bee can be seen as a sentinel of the earth and a barometer for the health of the Earth.”

With its 169,300 components using 50 tonnes of mill-finish aluminium, The Hive is an exemplar of design excellence and design for disassembly (DfD) enabling the reuse of the pavilion without waste, as all the details are fully reversible. The Hive was fabricated and installed by Stage One, who used laser cutting, waterjet cutting, and machining to fabricate the components. It is a fascinating combination of Euclidean geometry and accretive complexity that is probably only possible using 3D computer modelling. Forming a 14 m cube with a 9 m spherical void at its core, it is lifted 3 m off the ground plane by 18 circular hollow section steel columns. In the void at the core of the Hive, visitors experience sound and light that is a direct response to beehives at Kew.

BDP’s landscape team, led by director James Millington, worked closely with Wolfgang Buttress, the artist responsible for The Hive, to create a sympathetic landscape setting for the installation that was accessible for all and takes visitors on an immersive journey through a colourful and vibrant wildflower meadow into the world of the honeybee.

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