Bees & the City: The Vulkan Beehive by Snohetta

Snapshot: Designed with inspiration from its buzzing residents, Oslo’s hottest new lodging is strictly for bees only.

Brought to us by the same firm commissioned to design the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City as well as redesign the Egyptian Royal Library of Alexandria, comes the latest project from the minds over at Snøhetta—the Vulkan Beehive. Set atop the roof of Mathallen food hall in central Oslo, the honey-colored abodes became home to 160 thousand bees this past July.

Inspired by the shape and natural geometry of honeycomb, the studio created these sculpturesque urban hives in real bee style with a multi-faceted form and hexagonal-patterned façade. Constructed entirely out of a light-colored wood finished with an intentionally honey-reminiscent hue, the hives were designed with an appearance that reflects their purpose.

The Vulkan Beehive is part of the larger Vulkan project, which started in 2009 as an initiative to revitalize the area located in the Grunerløkka section of Oslo. A previously industrial area on the western bank of the Akerselva River, the project transformed the neighborhood into one concerned more with architectural innovation and environmental sustainability. The area’s metamorphosis made Vulkan the winner of the 2012 State Urban Environment Award.

Known as “Oslo’s green lung” for its many parks and trails, the Akerselva is an ideal backyard for the new hives offering plenty of buzz-worthy greenspace. “By creating these beehives, we bring more bees to the city,” says Snøhetta. “We want to give visitors information on how they can contribute to the environment, and create involvement around bees.” 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, bees are responsible for the pollination of 71 out of 100 crops that provide 90% of the world’s food supplies. Coming at a time when the protection of pollinators is a worldwide concern, the city’s newest residents could not be more welcome.

Photography courtesy of Snøhetta

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