There’s a buzz in the air about three new residences opening on campus: for bees and bats that is.
Located on the green roof at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), three pollinator homes are welcoming hundreds of UBC’s littlest and most vulnerable residents.
Built by UBC school of architecture and landscape architecture (SALA) students, the pollinator homes will provide a unique opportunity to study how we can share spaces with these species that are struggling to adapt to urban environments.
“Pollinators play such a vital role in our ecosystems but there isn’t a lot of research into how design can play a larger role in helping them adapt and thrive,” said Stuart Lodge, a master’s student at SALA.
The project grew out of a SALA design class led by associate professor Blair Satterfield and a collaboration between the UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program, the Vancouver Park Board and CityStudio Vancouver, an innovation hub that encourages city and park board staff, post-secondary students and community to co-create experimental projects.
“As designers and builders, we’re one of the largest consumers of materials on the planet and we felt it really important to think about the life cycle and ethical implications of material use,” said Satterfield. “Can we think of garbage and waste as an opportunity?”
Lodge and fellow SALA student Sébastien Roy spent months working with biologists, zoologists and Vancouver Park Board planners to design the new homes for bees and bats.
The materials used to construct the pollinator homes get a second, and even third life: one of them, for example, uses concrete made from recycled paper. Over time, the pollinator home will disintegrate, revealing seeds that will grow into flowering plants for other pollinators.
The pollinator homes will welcome mining bees, mason bees and bats and will also be installed at a pop-up park at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street in Kitsilano.
The students will monitor the pollinator homes over the summer and into the fall to research how the bees and bats are settling in.