Gianluca Santosuosso Designs A Hive As A Radical Living Environment Of The Future


“How would nature respond to this brief?” Nature would create something simple, efficient, adaptable, resilient, and yet, beautiful.

Its response would be a result of slow, evolutionary cycles. By using hexagonal cells, bees make the best use of the space available to them; they create a lightweight but sturdy honeycomb with a minimum amount of wax and store the maximum amount of honey in a given space. In fact, it is mathematically demonstrated that regular hexagons are the best way to divide a space into equal parts with minimal structural support. Inspired by this engineering marvel of nature, we look at the honeycomb structure and its organization as the inspiration for a radically new living environment of the future.

We call it: ”The HIVE Project” – Human-Inclusive & Versatile Ecosystem. HIVE combines the properties of the honeycomb with the shape of the archetypal house and creates a new hybrid type of living space able to merge nature’s efficiency with the ingenuity of humans. The notion of the home extends beyond human beings to include animals, trees, the wind, and rain. Humans have as much of privileged status it as the rest of the natural world. Our ambition is to introduce a “new ecology of place” where our presence does not damage the ecosystem but enriches, supports, and vastly benefits from its regeneration.


“A beehive depends upon diversity of population for expanding and flourishing.” And so does our society. Diversity and inclusion are the key aspects we intend to promote with “The HIVE Project’’. Due to the great degree of flexibility given by the hexagonal module, each inhabitant will have the possibility to customize their home in multiple ways and at different stages of life. This includes the interior finishing, accessibility, and the outdoor amenities of the house. A great variety of “HIVE Windows’’ can be chosen and personalized with different materials, colors and add-ons. If you love nature you can bring your personal small forest in front of your house.

If you like sun and water a small private swimming pool offers an open view of the landscape and if you love bees or birds you can have either your private beehive or rescue nest on your doorstep. Whereas the modularity of the prefabricated timber frame structure allows the development to be scalable and cost-effective, the customizable features of the exteriors create an architecture with an ever-different look. This encourages all the personalities, needs, lifestyle preferences of its residents to flourish through diversity, distinction, inclusivity, and, in this way, creates polyphony and beauty.


“Bees are social insects, they live together in well-organised communities”. The presence of several generations in a single nest, the strong sense of belonging that hugely benefits all and the purpose-for-everyone make them a community paradigm. It is fundamental to enable inhabitants of all ages to feel comfortable, safe and truly useful to the community through their individual role, contribution and purpose in it. The design creates a biophilic home with place and meaning for all. The flexibility of the beehive modular system allows for huge customisation so that people tailor their homes to specific circulation, accessibility, lifestyle needs.

For example, in double-storey homes the same module is designed to accommodate either a stairwell or an elevator. Ramps and smooth paths replace conventional steps and obstacles. On higher floors, open hexagonal modules allow inhabitants to share or own gardens, orchards and playgrounds. Spacious private terraces allow people to interact with neighbours and a mix of private, semi-private and shared spaces allow residents to keep privacy and socialise with others. Soundproofing and noise control are easily managed by the well insulated and structurally independent prefabricated modules.


Our proposal for “Home of the 2030” intends to develop a system rather than a defined design solution. Considering the new challenges that our society will face in the next decades, “The HIVE Project” focuses on social cohesion and natural regeneration as the two key criteria. This Socio-Eco-System includes a wide range of components from residential modular estates (categorized by size), shared services buildings, energy, and food-production facilities, shared e-vehicle premises, urban connectivity components and wild nature habitats. We intend to provide the HIVE with a wide spectrum of co-owned and shared facilities that will empower individuals, families, and communities to be self-sufficient while allowing local authorities and administration to limit the need for public investments.

The definition of the exact range of components may be decided in a participatory way together with future residents from the earliest stages of planning. Using these “Kits-of-Parts”, every single plot development will be unique and diverse. A successful housing developments project relies on an evidence-based, data-driven and people-centred approach – providing reasoned justification for the socio-economic benefits. In the following design phases, we’ll be using predictive day-in-life modelling and spatial analytics to measure and enhance opportunities for social interactions and dwell times, pedestrian comfort, safety, accessibility and journey times, footfall and opportunities to engage with healthy living activities.


Our water cycle strategy relies on five principles: reduce water consumption, collect and reuse rainwater in a cradle-to-cradle cycle, install dedicated networks for potable, greywater and blackwater, recycle greywater, recycle human waste and blackwater. Water saving fittings and micro-flush composting toilets create a network of devices that reduces water demand. A community harvested rainwater cistern supplies part of the dwelling’s water demand. Humanure fertiliser and leachate are used to feed local food production for the community.

Roof-installed PV systems supported by onsite renewables provide electricity to dwellings, public areas and shared e-vehicles charging stations. Heating, cooling and hot water systems rely on geothermal closed loop piles and heat pumps for temperature and indoor comfort control. Our solar studies suggest the best orientation of the dwellings is 60o/75o N in order to minimise overheating during summer and energy saving during winter. Air quality sensors, mechanical ventilation systems and natural ventilation ensure safety and the highest air quality standards. A computer-based control system (BMS) allows a smart management of all resources.



Gianluca Santosuosso (Gianluca Santosuosso Design – Architecture)

Eri Pontikopoulou (EPDS – Architecture)

Roman Pomazan (Urban Sustain Architects – Urban Planning)

Shrikant Sharma and Becky Hayward (Buro Happold – Analytics)

Davide Frati (Sustainability Consultant)

Loris a. di Benedetto (Architecture)

Richard Holmes (Community Development Consultant)

Sergiy Kovalenko (Hempire Ltd – Hemp Construction Consultant)

Marco Crippa (Marlegno s.r.l. – Prefabricated Timber structures Consultant)

Photography with courtesy of Gianluca Santosuosso

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