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Arthur Willis Building, Sheffield, United Kingdom

Tuesday 07 Apr 2009

From bombs to bugs

Arthur Willis Building by Bond Bryan Architects in Sheffield, United Kingdom
Arthur Willis Building by Bond Bryan Architects in Sheffield, United Kingdom Arthur Willis Building by Bond Bryan Architects in Sheffield, United Kingdom
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Ecological unit with 'bee holes' completes 

The University of Sheffield’s new Arthur Willis building, complete with ‘bee holes’ for insects to fly in and out, has been handed over by Bond Bryan Architects.

The £4.4 million facility, named after the late Emeritus Professor of Botany, will house specialist research teams studying the behaviour of plants and social insects, such as ants and bees. The ‘bee holes’ in the exterior walls allow bees to reach nearby hives.

The single-storey research facility blends into woodland off Northumberland Road in central Sheffield and covers 630sq m. The adjoining greenhouse, an integral part of the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, covers a further 650m².

Project architect Matt Hutton says: “This elegant building is hidden away on an unusual and challenging site - an old dam in-filled with bomb rubble from the WWII and with an artesan well running beneath it.

“We have incorporated a woodland management scheme which will re-establish native species to the site.

“The bee flight room has holes in the wall linked directly to the bee flight paths, so their behaviour can be observed as they come in and out of the building. It is the first time we have been asked to include such a feature in a building. Usually we are required to keep animals out of our buildings, not allow them in.

“These rooms have been designed to stay at a constant temperature as many of the ants and other insects will be imported from hot climates.”

Professor Peter Fleming, chair of the University’s project executive group that oversaw the Arthur Willis Building, added: “Sheffield, with its ‘green’ attributes and natural and industrial sites of scientific interest, is an ideal place to carry out extensive ecological research. The new facilities will enable both the city and the University to be placed at the forefront of global environmental issues.”

Key Facts

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Bond Bryan Architects

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