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In the face of a growing climate crisis, honeybees have been the subject of considerable interest worldwide. As crop pollinators, the insects, which have been diminishing in number, play a vital role in our food system, aiding in the production of fruits and vegetables.

With hundreds of working hives, the University of Guelph’s internationally renowned agricultural college is a leader in honeybee study. Soon the Ontario institution will have a building to match its reputation and to bolster its research: the aptly named Honey Bee Research Centre, designed by Toronto’s Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

Envisioned as a low-carbon mass-timber complex, the centre will serve as a campus landmark that combines educational programming, research, ecological functions and public space. Emerging from a swath of terrain near the university’s arboretum, the structure is defined by a glazed facade and sweeping roofline topped with a stout interpretive tower that acts as both a solar chimney and a pollinator-friendly habitat. Inside, the light-filled facility will contain a flexible learning space, classrooms, research labs, an exhibition area, a café and a gift shop.

The centre’s exterior and surrounding landscape are thoughtfully designed to reflect the overall building plan and to act as an extension of the structure.

Cultivated plots and working hives will serve both ecological and educational purposes, providing refuges for honeybees (as well as other wildlife) while underscoring the need to protect their ecosystems. A ground-level pathway leads to a public rooftop garden where edible and flowering plants support honeybee activity.

“A poetic melding of landscape andrnarchitecture. The interior quality, using wood as the primary surface, is interesting and innovative. Great use of natural light.”
Omar Gandhi, Az Awards juror

The construction of the complex will strongly reflect its eco-conscious ethos. All lumber will be sourced from a sustainably managed forest that mandates regeneration of all harvested areas. Designed to meet LEED Gold standards, the facility will also make use of passive design features, including daylight harvesting, a high performance envelope and a rainwater collection system. And when the centre opens (sometime in 2022), natural ventilation is expected to maintain a comfortable climate for 25 per cent of the year.

Firm Moriyama & Teshima Architects (Toronto, Canada) Team Diarmuid Nash and Veronica Madonna with Jay Zhao, Nicolas Mayaux, Rutuja Atre, Melissa Poon, Luis Quezada, Pooya Aledavood and Olivia Keung

Winner: Unbuilt Projects
AZ Awards 2020 Winner: Honey Bee Research Centre at the University of Guelph

Moriyama & Teshima’s ambitious upcoming building for the University of Guelph takes the win in Concepts: Unbuilt Buildings.

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