Lake view of The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset

Invisible Studio installs waterside bee house at Somerset hotel

Invisible Studio has unveiled the Beezantium, a lakeside apiary for honey bees in the grounds of The Newt hotel in Somerset.

With a hive built into its walls, the Beezantium is designed to house a bee colony, but also serve as an exhibition centre for hotel guests and visitors.

Night view across the lake for The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The Beezantium is located on the edge of a lake

Invisible Studio founder Piers Taylor designed the building as "a folly in the landscape", referencing the whimsical pavilions that have been created in English formal gardens for centuries.

The design features various sculptural flourishes, including a curving roof clad in copper shingles and punctured by oval-shaped windows.

Night view of entrance to The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The curved roof is clad in copper shingles

Other details are designed to suit the building's practical function, for instance, the walls are clad in large panels of unseasoned oak that offer natural holes for the bees to enter through.

A system of copper pipes has also been built into the building's structure, to make it easier for bees to fly in and out.

Entrance to The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The walls are unseasoned oak, with gaps where bees can enter

"The Beezantium has been designed to provide a sensory, otherworldly experience," said Taylor.

"It appears jewel-like, quirky and playful, almost like a folly with a glowing copper roof. But instead of being only about pleasure, the Beezantium is a purposeful building designed to house bees in observation hives in the external walls."

Bees in The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The apiary is built into the walls of the building

The apiary was designed in collaboration with beekeeper Paula Carnell and includes habitats for wild bees, solitary bees and other species.

"There are numerous smaller habitats in the apiary provided for wild bees and solitary bees and the hives that were relocated into the apiary were wild swarms that already existed locally but needed to be moved as in various cases trees they were in had fallen," explained Taylor.

"Also, we designed the cladding specifically to encourage the creation of habitats for other species!"

Bay window in The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The building contains an educational exhibition about bees

The Newt in Somerset is located at Hadspen House, a former country house with an 18-hectare estate in rural Somerset.

The site chosen for the Beezantium was previously used as a rubbish tip. But Taylor and the hotel owners, Karen Roos and Koos Bekker, felt that a waterside location would suit the building well.

"Lakes feature prominently in the tradition of follies," said Taylor.

Exhibitions design for The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The exhibition tones in with the building's honey oak interior

"Also we wanted the surprise of entering a building that looks small from a distance, but is much larger when you enter," he continued.

"Then there's a surprise at the end, when you've moved through the exhibition, and the landscape is presented through a bay window."

Roof window in The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
Oval windows puncture the curved roof overhead

Invisible Studio worked with Dutch design agency Kossmanndejong on the interior and exhibition design.

With the apiary in the walls, there was plenty of space in the centre of the room for an interactive showcase featuring hexagonal education panels and a large seating pod.

The yellow tones of the exhibition complement the walls, which are lined in slats of polished honey oak.

The space is naturally lit, thanks a skylight overhead and the large bay window.

Approach to The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
The building is located at The Newt in Somerset hotel

The Beezantium is not the only design that Invisible Studio has contributed to The Newt in Somerset. Taylor also designed the gym building, which he imagined as one giant window.

Other recent projects by the practice include a slate-clad home on Cornwall's northern coast and a retrofit of Taylor's own off-grid home.

Photography is by Jim Stephenson.

More images

Night view of The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
Roof window in The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
Exhibition design for The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset
Pod seat in The Beezantium by Invisible Studio at The Newt in Somerset