photo: Franz Hoeck © Olaf Nicolai / Sauerbruch Hutton

As part of a project by the German conceptual artist Olaf Nicolai, Sauerbruch Hutton was asked to design beehouses. Following a very clear specification, the interior of the hives was constructed in consultation with a professional beekeeper, whose bee colonies moved into the houses upon completion.

While bees and beehives have been of symbolic importance throughout art history and can be regarded as art pieces per se, the combs, of course, can be interpreted as archetypal pieces of architecture.

In this case the complex natural constructions were encased in abstract boxes that were coated in a two-colour glossy lacquer finish. These pristine objects were designed as metaphors for the natural elegance and purity associated with bees and honey. By contrast, their plinths were made of rough timber, exhibiting a crude yet typical (building) construction.

Together they were to be placed into the manicured nature of a park. The coloured object and the rough timber construction seemed to blend with ease into an associative context of beauty and wilderness.


  • Conceptual Art project by Olaf Nicolai


  • Olaf Nicolai


  • 2002