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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Hive is a modular kinetic architecture inspired by bee colony behaviour.

Giant honeybees (Apis dorsata) nest in the open and have therefore evolved a variety of defence strategies. Against predatory wasps, they produce highly coordinated Mexican wavelike cascades, whereby hundreds of bees flip their abdomens upwards.

Hive has focused on creating a system, so it can tessellate any freeform surface by hexagons, and simultaneously produces information such as: Support structure, Cost estimation and Fabrication files. Consequently, It replicates bee hive flashing morphology.

Below is a video which explains the process of making a hive. At last, flashing behaviour is shown:

The reason why hexagon was chosen is that bees use this shape for building their hive. They need to be planar so a planar material (Plywood) can be used for laser cutting the pedals’ patterns.

Various mechanisms of moving pedals were tested. As a result, the 9g micro servo was chosen since it is both cheap and small size. Several tests were done to obtain the best position and rotation of the motor behind the pedal some of which are shown below:

Many patterns with different cutting density levels were tested to understand the bending behaviour of the pedal under the gravity force:

And below is a video on how pedals bend:

As part of the design process, a free-form surface needed to be created and then tessellated:

For tessellation and planarization, several methods including: Kangaroo2, Self planarization and BFF were tested. Image below shows the chosen method (BFF) for producing hexagons:

And then grids were clustered to be prepared for producing support structure:

So support structure part started with positioning micro servo motors behind pedals:

Support structure then was created:

and here is an example of Hive:


Evelyn Schmelzer & Gerald Kastberger. (2009). Special agentstrigger social waves in giant honeybees (Apis dorsata).

ViralHog. (2018). Honeybees mesmerising defensive wave.