Dubbed Alone with Bees, this pilgrimage house inhabited by bees is a project of this year’s OFF-Biennale Budapest, located a bit further away from the city center. The one-person hive installation in the hills of Buda ponders on rethinking the relationship between humans and the environment and the growing loneliness of urban people.
A group of architects from Budapest, the Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop (AU), built the beehouse next to a hidden path, and put a beehive on top of it. Here, the bees can build their honeycomb structures freely, and when the weather’s good, they cover the building from the outside. The hive as an architectural element moves on the border of the natural and artificial world. During the project, the designers examined, among other things, how hives’ architectural system changed over the years, how it began to become increasingly similar to people’s houses, serving their needs.
The AU workshop has created single-person spaces before, and now they’re working with one again: “For us, experimenting with single-person spaces is a kind of mental practice in which a person in the space tries to understand a concrete effect to then see seemingly parallel but actually interconnected things in context. These spaces do not lock the person inside away in complete solitude, but always show them only one kind of material or scent. If someone is this focused on something and aims to understand what makes it different from everything else, they also have to face everything that separates it from the rest,” the designers told us.
The GPS coordinates and padlock code of the installation can only be obtained by applicants who book in advance. Visiting the place already lends the experience a sense of secret rites per se, as nothing on the spot indicates the nature of the Biennale project. Only those who were initiated know where the house is, what it is about and how to get inside it. Upon arrival, the participant can spend an unusual hour in the house: being alone with bees and the sounds of nature, breaking free from urban rush.
“Nowadays, people are becoming more and more specialized in their jobs, which is why they often ignore everything that is outside of it. Not paying attention to connections can lead to social problems. Alienation and loneliness have intensified even more over the past year. This space strives to draw attention to these processes,” the designers said.
Although my own pilgrimage to the beehive was not entirely successful—in rainy and cold weather, bees retreat and do not interact with the building—it still gave me a special reassurance outside my comfort zone. Those interested should book their appointments for a warm, sunny day for the full experience via firstname.lastname@example.org.