The latest concept toward creating a sustainable community, the BEE HOME, can be viewed at the D&R Greenway just south of the Johnson Education Center in Princeton, New Jersey.
The BEE HOME is also known as the B HOME and BE HOME.
The B HOME is a conceptual modular shelter system developed by Peter Abrams of Modern Metal Work LLC in partnership with EPICS of Princeton University.
It represents a fast, cheap way to provide shelter and security. The B HOME is also designed to support a sustainable community. It was inspired by the geometric efficiency and communal benefits of the honeycomb structure in beehives.
The name has a triple meaning:
- B HOME: A plan B, an alternative home, a fall-back plan; basic shelter for those without one
- BE HOME: Simply a place to be, a place to rest, store modest belongings, and feel safe
- BEE HOME: Inspired by the honey bees, whose honeycomb reminds us of the art of community and space organization
The B HOME is a hexagonal, interconnecting modular shelter system made of upcycled sustainable materials.
An example of biomimicry (the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems), the B HOME derives inspiration from the honeycomb of a beehive, efficiently enclosing space with a hexagonal lattice.
The hexagon design provides more enclosed space in a smaller area using less materials and energy.
Each unit provides a safe, comfortable, and private space for individuals to sleep and store basic belongings.
Together, the units form a strong, interconnected structure where utilities are efficiently shared. The B HOME offers a more permanent, stable, and efficient alternative to other low-cost shelter systems, as well as providing a sense of community through architecture.
The B HOME has been in development since 2005. A full-scale proof of concept was fabricated in 2009 and deployed in an abandoned building in Trenton, New Jersey, for real world testing. It was inhabited for a period of its deployment.
Based on the results, the design was revised and a stronger, more robust prototype evolved. Collaborating with Dr. Wole Soboyejo at Princeton University since 2010, the Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) program selected the B HOME as a design project and secured a Kurtz Foundation grant.
Applications of the tessellated structure (small shapes arranged in a checkered or mosaic pattern) range from a children’s playhouse and artist studio to a temporary relief shelter and Mobile Bread House.
The Mobile Bread House is based upon the B HOME and is composed of a hexagonal structure created from pallets.
Made from materials discarded around Princeton University, the building takes advantage of global supply chains to bring and leave scraps for construction.
The structure is on wheels, and it feels somewhat like a slatted wood RV, with a table and benches taking up most of the interior.
The Mobile Bread House is a sort of community center where people can come to make and bake bread and break down cultural barriers.
Inside, a wooden table is covered with Plexiglas for ease of kneading the dough, and a rocket stove at one end is made of oil barrels. There are herbs in pots, nested in openings in the wood.
A sink, with a brass hose spigot, is not hooked up to a water source and not presently operational.
Incorporating elements of geometry such as the Golden Rectangle and architectural history that resembles a classic tea house, the Mobile Bread House seeks to combine the past with the present. Recycled materials vary the color and tone of the structure, creating a diverse visual image.
In the end, we only conserve what we love.
We only love what we understand.
We will understand what we are taught.
—Baba Dioum, Sengalese poet