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Urban Acres

Kat Skull

Urban Acres

“We need to change the way we view cities… We need bees for the future of our cities and urban living.”- Noah Wilson-Rich

Bee One Third was created as a response to the burgeoning disconnect between people in the city and a relevant connection with their food. Our mutual love for good food with a story meant that bees were the perfect way to ignite a conversation about eating locally, current agricultural methods and utilisation of city space.

Prior to this project we were unaware of the essential role that bees play in the pollination of our food supply (one third globally and 65% in Australia) nor did we know the devastating impact that their absence would have on biodiversity. Bee die-off in America has been so severe that 1000s of hives are driven across the country to pollinate various crops to ensure that they are able to produce a yield, a practice which would be wholly unsustainable in Australia.

In the last 11 months Bee One Third has successfully installed and maintained 3 neighbourhood apiaries and 4 rooftop apiaries across Brisbane city with a 5th rooftop apiary planned for spring. Our flagship apiary is at James Street (above Gerard’s Bistro, where the honey is on the menu) and it was during our initial site inspection of this rooftop that I was allowed a completely new perspective of our city scape. There are acres of sprawling rooftops across Brisbane and despite their enormous potential the majority are presently housing air-conditioning units and not much else.

By 2050, 80% of our 9 billion global population will be living in cities and we need to be able to feed them. However, our current centralised food system, methods of agriculture and food transportation rely on finite resources and also contribute to various ecological emergencies therefore bringing food back into the city, where it started, makes sense.

Through conscious planning and design there is the potential to reimagine forgotten, ineffective grey space and transform it into vital green space creating boundless positivity and health for both the community and the environment. In the past, development has destroyed bee habitat and foragable plant material but there is now an opportunity to create buildings that house rooftop farms and apiaries which are able to supply produce to cafes below whilst simultaneously bolstering local bee colonies, increasing biodiversity, reducing energy consumption and allowing the community spaces where they can interact directly with their food.

How can we encourage/inspire designers to incorporate food spaces on rooftops?

Are designers able to work with current rooftop spaces to create rooftop farms or will new buildings have to be designed with this use of the space in mind?
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