Design collaboration group Saint H are setting to right some of the environmental wrongs with research-led, future orientated design – including the Bee Brick, a temporary shelter for the hardworking bee.
After working with timber supply chain company Helveta on a project to trace timber from felling in ghana to end user in the UK, the group’s proposal and products included the cultivation and conservation of bee’s. However, once the project was complete they felt there were still a couple of unexplored opportunities to open up and explore.
One of them was the application of digital technologies to help analogue world – or, how can we 3D print something which can work as a bee house, but not in the conventional way?
“There’s no doubt that bees are in some real trouble and that we humans are partly to blame,” explains Saint H’s Nicholas O’Donnell-Hoare. “The issue we face is that we don’t really stand in a good place if they disappear.
“These fuzzy little guys really do make our above-water ecosystems tick.”
“Utilising the building brick as the mortar bee already does gave an opportunity to develop further for the future into creating bee friendly building materials and ultimately giving back habitats amongst our own man manufactured dwelling.
“Fortunately for us the bees are amazing builders anyway so we took inspiration on a biomimicry level to create the internal workings and structure of the brick.
“With regards to using 3D printing as a means for manufacture, it meant we didn’t have to export over lengthy distances, as the brick to transport on a large scale is obviously expensive. Using digital culture to help analogue culture allowed the manufacture of the brick close to the place of sale or delivery cutting down on emissions of transport in a drastic way.”
For short runs of production, the bricks can be Z Printer printed then kiln fired to reinforce structural integrity. For commercial runs they would be printed using a 3D Systems iPro 9000 to produce a 3 part mould, then slip cast clay before kiln firing.
With every bee brick you buy Saint H help fund a honey producing bee hives for communities in Africa that suffer from illegal logging. Simply scanning the brick’s QR code and registering your newly purchased hotel (for bees) you can see how you’re helping elsewhere in the world.