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EUSOCIAL CATHEDRAL & THE BUZZAAR, Designing and Evaluating Mycelial Beehives for Healthy Inner-nest

Asya Ilgün (TU Graz)

Asya is a designer and researcher. Her work is framed as fabrication-oriented design of new types of architectural boundaries, supporting the co-occupancy of humans and other living organisms. Asya acquired her master’s within the program “CITAstudio: Computation in Architecture” in the Royal Danish Academy, School of Architecture. She currently is a PhD candidate within the design, material and fabrication track of the H2020 FET_PROACTIVE research project HIVEOPOLIS, as part of the Artificial Life Lab. Her role in this group is to think of the material interfaces where biology and technology merge.

Project Description

This project aims to develop a hybrid construction method for a novel type of urban ecological niche.

A niche in a building is essentially a mono-functional and decorative architectural element, framing inanimate objects. However urban environments resemble complex and dynamic biological systems in which nothing exists in isolation. The artefacts of "EUSOCIAL CATHEDRAL & THE BUZZAAR" aim to frame dynamic and adaptive organisms - honeybees as eusocial insects and fungal networks- and thus serve as urban ecological niches by working around the morphologies and structural logics of "framing."

Following the master thesis project “Co-Occupied Boundaries”, Asya has been exploring the dynamic biological phenomena and the material properties found in natural and artificial honeybee nests. Her specific design query, also part of her PhD study within project HIVEOPOLIS, is re-constructing the potentially lost symbiotic relationships between microorganisms and honeybee colonies found in complex habitats -such as beehives. Her method for tackling this query is to build stay-in scaffolds as material frameworks for living fungal networks to act as functional -mechanical, thermal, and nutraceutical- enhancers. She iteratively develops hive morphologies using hacked 3D printing methods, experimental composites, and procedural design. The goal of this study demands field experiments to monitor the efficiency of identical myco-hive prototypes (material and morphology) with honeybee colonies residing in them, as well as control groups with traditional beehives. Ideally, the hive performance is evaluated after each bee season (late spring to early autumn) through extensive lab analysis of beehive samples, common beekeeping practice, and, at the most advanced level, a full microbiome study of all the nest materials.

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