When the architect Angelo Renna read that there are, on average, 100 different species of spiders, centipedes, and insects living in any home, he didn’t start to itch. Instead, he decided to design houses for them.
The study, which was published in The Royal Society’s Biology Letters, became the jumping-off point for his creative process. “It is a hidden biodiversity that we need to understand and support,” the Italian architect tells me over email. He points to the fact that humanity has wiped out an estimated 60% of the animal (and insect) population of earth since 1970, according to another study, thanks to habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, and climate change–and we have the responsibility to do something to help our fellow earth dwellers.
Renna worked in collaboration with Francesco Carrasso, a wildlife specialist, to identify the local insect fauna living in a typical Italian home. Carrasso helped him develop the best possible structures to help those species live and thrive.
The results of their collaboration is Lesser Homes, a collection of 3D-printed homes for insects that aims to be two things. First, a practical home for insects like ladybugs or spiders–who, let me remind you, eat mosquito larvae, helping you have a better better summer. Their home for ladybugs offers them a warm place to winter (with a special space for a plant, to host plenty of tasty aphids for snacking, to help it thrive). A home for butterflies has a door that is very narrow, making it hard for predators to gain access.
Second, the designs serve as a public statement to call attention to the remarkable biodiversity that is all around us–often right in our homes. Or, as Renna adds, “the little that still exists.”