Next week, five new hotels will be completed in London. They will be the picture of exclusivity, with custom rooms, balconies, and spectacular views of greenery at every turn. They will cater to the city's most loyal tourists, by which we mean, of course, the insects.
Yes, the insects of London are just days away from fetching up in five-star opulence. To this we owe Beyond the Hive, a competition that asks architects to design high-class critter habitats, as part of London's celebrations for the International Year of Biodiversity. Five teams were short-listed recently and started construction on their assorted digs, from a "Beevarian" chalet to an "Inn Vertebrate." (Ah, Brits. They're just crawling with puns.)
Here's a rendering of the Inn Vertebrate, designed by Metalanguage Design. The inn's described as a "boutique bug hotel" in the "fashionable area of Old Street" (in a cemetery, actually), whose suites have names like the Cardboard Rooms and the Straw Combs, and come "sumptuously furnished" in terracotta, bamboo, brick, logs, and moss. It's the perfect setting for "illustrious guests," we're told -- namely lacewings, beetles, spiders, and bees.
Over in West Smithfield, the landscape designers Fisher Tomlin are hot on the trail of the Jenga craze, with five bee towers (top image). The boxes can be variously configured, whether into a two-story wildlife B&B or a high-rise hotel, to suit your apian lodgers' every need.
Below, a sketch of the chalet slated for Cleary Garden. Quaint as can be with planters and eaves
Starting next week, you, dear reader, can cast a ballot for your favorite design online. Two Golden Beetle awards will be presented during the London Festival of Architecture, one to the winner of the public vote, the other to the winner chosen by a judging panel, which includes, among other celebrated experts, the Daily Telegraph's beekeeping correspondent (their man in honeycomb, you might say).