Bee Breeders has focused much of its recent attention on questions of small-scale, affordable and sustainable living. It has done so by organising a number of international competitions seeking innovative solutions to the dual crises of global housing and climate change. Examples of the small-scale living series range from the Silent Meditation Forest Cabins to the MICROHOME competitions; events run as part of the affordable housing series have included competitions for the cities of San Francisco, Melbourne, and London. Bee Breeders has also partnered with ARCHHIVE Books to feature key competition proposals alongside topical interviews with global industry leaders and entrepreneurs in its print publications What is Affordable Housing? and What is Small-Scale Architecture?
The Romantic Cabin for Two Competition fits perfectly within this growing library of design ideas for small-scale, sustainable living. The competition was run in partnership with The Earth Energies Sanctuary, a 200-acre farm located in northern New Zealand. It is a functioning organic farm which uses seaweed fertilisers and follows the principles of natural solid biology to create a more balanced ecosystem on the land, and produces beeswax used in local products and remedies. It seeks ideas for a small, open plan cabin on the Earth Energies property that can provide a comfortable and relaxing escape for two guests to connect with nature and one another. It calls for construction technologies and materials that meet best green-building practices. This is the second competition organised with the Sanctuary after the Tiny Kiwi Meditation Cabin.
This competition posits that eco-tourism and architecture can evolve together to provide visitors with world-class experiences in well-constructed, sustainable buildings that use local materials, are small in scale, and reduce impact on their environments or sites. 'Green building' is not only material in nature - it is also social, economic and ecological. All of these ideas can and should be embedded in architectural solutions. This requires not just well-considered designs by architects but also input from researchers, entrepreneurs, planners and members of communities.
The jury for the Earth Energies Sanctuary competition was regional and international in nature and included: Nancy Beka, an architectural designer and co-director of Studio Edwards, a Melbourne-based design practice established in 2016: Mari Hunt, an Estonian architect, partner and co-founder of the architecture office b210, a lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Arts, a polar enthusiast and a tiny house builder; Suzanne Hunt, founder and principal architect at Suzanne Hunt Architect, a multi-awarded practice in Perth, Australia; Pablo Larroulet, a Chilean architect and founder of LARROU ARQ - Pablo Larroulet Arquitectura: Marco Lavit founder of Atelier LAVIT based in Paris in 2014, which has realized an exclusive tree house, Origin, for the Park of Raray Castle, France, and a series of surprising, floating cabins for an hotel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape; and Cristina Verissimo, co-founding partner of Lisbon-based CVDB arquitectos and chief curator of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2022.
Bee Breeders and its jury panel would like to thank all the designers that participated in this competition.
Jury feedback summary
‘Intimo’ is an intimate refuge with an open concept plan of 6x6m surrounded by a 3m perimeter space that is designed to merge interior with exterior. A timber structure, it is topped by a green roof and large floor-to-ceiling glass panels. Its layout and design permit expansive views and pockets of privacy. The jury writes: “Poetic, elegant, yet innovative and rational in intimate dialogue with the surrounding landscape. It frames views of the landscape as if painting on the walls. An intriguing exploration of landscape and sanctuary: connecting the user to the landscape through placed openings, it demonstrates balance, restraint and design maturity.” It was also lauded for its strong imagery and constructability, and the use of its organizational grid which carries the project without being too heavy-handed.