Architecture for You, Me, and the Bees
Bees are dying. All over the world, dwindling bee populations are a cause for concern. Not only is another species at risk of being lost, but bees are a vital part of the earth’s ecosystem, pollinating 1/3 of the food humans eat alone. This triggered thoughts of how living intimately with bees could be a response to this ecological problem. Upon further reading, it was clear that we already live intimately with many other things that are nonhuman, and that these nonhuman things have their own inherent agency and vitality. As a result, this thesis explores how architecture can acknowledge and celebrate nonhuman agency. In particular, this proposition is explored by speculating upon a world where beekind and humankind live on par with one another. By imagining what architecture means to another species, humancentric norms in design and society are brought into question. The chosen methodological approach was design as research. This methodology focuses on non-linear iterative processes and the reflection upon these iterations, with the entire body of work contributing as research rather than only a single defined end point. However, for ease of reading, the thesis document follows a linear structure that runs counter to the process of design as research. Thus this thesis begins with a literary context chapter and then moves into three design stages. Each stage plays out at a different scale – installation, domestic and public. Each design result responds to nonhuman agency in architecture in its own way, and raises different questions each time. To thread ideas together, a narrative with the Queen Bee(s) is introduced. The concluding body of work presents a series of designs that responds to the nonhuman by working with the bee across client, programme and representation. To contemplate nonhuman agency through design reveals how anthropocentric roots underlie assumed architectural conventions, and the importance of becoming-with others for a habitable, flourishing world.