Melarium

by Ula

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.

– Albert Einstein

Motorways look always the same. Artificial flows of movement between one big city and another. Covered with the overlay of the same cut grass and fences to protect the animals, they protect  one from the disruption of the surplus information. Everything that could describe better the place and make it more unique is hidden safely at a distance of few kilometers. Moving through the motorways, one sees cars and cars and woods and fields, but without entering into the landscape more deeply, without belonging to that place. Travelling with the freeway gives an opportunity to forget where one really is and to immerse inside the (not so far from meditation) act of moving without moving. In this circumstances it is easy to overlook some places, that are worth to look at and, that from some unknown reasons, have decided to stay in the place of no man.

Such a place is to be found in between two motorways, south of Delft, where since the end of April 2015 one can spot an enormous wooden construction, arising from the fields of grass. The huge construction with perforated facade is an apiary designed by the Dutch artist David Veldhoen and built in the collaboration with the MIR architects.

“Melarium” is a response to the KNNV (natural history association) plans to convert the wastelands (Ackerdijkse Bos) into a “cultural landscape”, landscape that will be used as an inspiration for the inspired artists to merge nature with art and to build the awareness of human surroundings through the artistic projects.

The apiary has been planned since the 2012 (year of the bee) and finally open at the end of April, 2015. Its plan resembles the bee’s body, with the parts responding to the head, thorax and abdomen. It’s built on three floors, each with the different appropriation. The ground floor is the place where the hives will be placed (at the moment there is only one, with around 20 000 bees inside) and where the honey and other products that hive creates will be produced, and it is divided in the three parts. In the head part there is a staircase, leading directly to the top floor. The middle part (thorax) is used as the space for hives, where the honey is processed. The back part (abdomen) is designed as the workplace for the beekeepers. Going up with the staircase,  one can go directly to the viewing platform at the last floor, or visit the first floor, planned as a place for the lectures, scientific debates, and performances, all devoted to the production of the industrious insects and bee’s life. The top floor is open and offers a stunning view over the nature reserve.

The facade of the whole building has been perforated with approximately 4000 holes, that render the structure of the honeycomb and give one the possibility to experience the way bees are seeing their surroundings. Holes in the part, where hives are placed are open, so bees can move between them and access to the fields around the structure.

The fields surrounding the Melarium at the moment are covered with grass but the bees won’t be the only new locator of the polders. LoLa landscape architects (an office for progressive landscape architecture, based in Rotterdam) have been invited to work on the design for the
apiary’s surroundings, planning to introduce different types of herbs, wildflowers and fruit trees, to beautify the surrounding, supply bees with food and diversify the landscape. It is planned as well to adapt the grassland for the cultivation of feed grain, with extra attention on arable fauna and flora. For time being, on the left side of the apiary, close by the staircase, the builders excavated a pit where a small apple tree will be planted, a beginning of the orchard, where bees can feel like home.

The place is planned as a nature oriented space, promulgating knowledge about the nature, and to draw the attention on the risks generated by the human exploitation. It is a fascinating project which is supposed to give as well the chance to immerse yourself into the hush created by the bucolic neighborhood of fields and trees. Nevertheless, due to its unfavourable location, it will require your capability to disregard the fast food store nearby (unfortunately that one was built first…), the two busy motorways and, hopefully for the artist, the visitors that will be popping up from time to time, to check how the bees are doing.

 

Photo credits:
Urszula Lewicka

 

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