This dissertation proposes a beekeeping facility to address the ungraspable and the imposing essence of a post-industrial terrain.
The site is situated at Era Bricks, a dilapidated quarry in Silverton, Pretoria. The proposal suggests that a layered architecture and programme can activate the seemingly lost inherent sense of place.
Decommissioned industrial sites are generally perceived to be of low value and of little fertility. However, such sites may be seen as transitional, and therefore have the potential to be rearranged into new ways of being. These transitional sites offer potential in the form of accessibility, available land and providing new connections to business and public sectors.
Era Bricks is a transitional site. The clay on site has been depleted, the terrain is left altered and the structures practically stand empty. However, the current state of the terrain provides a platform for ecological, social, industrial and architectural intervention.
Currencies/ Industrial Ecologies
The flow of currencies, in the context of Silverton, forms a dynamic relationship between apparent currencies, such as the flow of labour and raw material, and non-apparent currencies, such as the transfer of skill and human interaction.
An urban vision for the site suggests three architectural proposals located centrally on the Era precinct that deal with industrial ecologies and form part of an interdependent cycle that allows for constant adaption and evolution of the site. The three proposals for the precinct are a natural fibre processing plant, an incubator for ceramic-based industries and this specific proposal, an apiary and honey-processing facility.
The urban vision for Era Bricks is approached in a manner which considers the tangible and intangible networks of its context. The seemingly dilapidated and inactive yet dynamic, vibrant context rely on a matrix of different currencies. Currencies are not considered as only monetary, but are broadly seen as avenues of flow.
Realized as Era Regional Park, the site becomes an ecological and industrial catalyst which manages and activates the site through exploration and reinterpretation of the attributes that are presented on site.
The proposal for an apiary and honey processing facility encompasses machinery and empty sheds that come into direct contact with the altered natural environment. The context for the intervention is seen in the periphery of the empty industrial sheds and the altered natural terrain of the precinct.
Within the urban framework, the facility aims to promote entrepreneurship whilst recognising the importance of beekeeping, forestry and its potential on local level development. The on-site productions range from utilising the vast scape as a production premise to converting the existing structures as points of product distribution.
The apiary consists of a rehabilitated terrain as a bee foraging landscape, a research institute and a honey product processing and packaging facility. The apiary also aims to provide small scale bee keepers with equipment, storage and handling facilities.
This programme would, in accordance with the proposed urban vision, attract the public into what would be generally an isolated industrial premise.
Conceptually, the dissertation mediates physically, and intangibly, between landscape and industrial structure.
The architectural intervention becomes a transitional exploration between the dynamic and fluxing territories of environmental transformations and the static physicality of structure.
The site is understood in terms of past, present and future events. By drawing sections across the landscape, the information of different events with their resultant effects on the site is made visible and legible.
Singularly, these different sections of the terrain capture the relationship between industry and landscape, or rather, the various physical results between the static and dynamic factors of the site.
The proposal ranges from the point where bees roam and forage for honey, to the eventual point where the product is sold. However, bees and their realm of industry can never be fully contained, much like the context, the constantly altering terrain, remains ungraspable. The building mediates between the intangible and the imposing.
Through the programmatic activation of the terrain, the ungraspable becomes a direct reference and experience to the user. Bees, as an industry, are physically brought forward through new function-specific architecture and management of the terrain.
Although hives and facilities for beekeeping are provided, where the bees forage, roam or how they behave is observed through the programmatic realisation and procession through the building.
While the intervention is based in the transition from an open, natural premise to a formal, enclosed premise, the site remains inherent to itself through a newly introduced programme.