Under the theme of 'refuge' for 2020.
Ancient Greek própolis, ‘before city’ or ‘suburb’ / An aromatic glue-like substance produced by bees
Propolis is a playful labyrinthine structure with many isolated and parallel pathways. It is an architectural space that weaves together stories of material, environment, and interspecies relations to explore the notion of refuge for and from humans in the age of the Anthropocene. Where once we created refuge to protect ourselves from our environment, now it is our environment that needs a refuge from us. Propolis is created by hanging hemp geotextile from a lightweight framework. Hemp absorbs 4 times its weight in water. By wetting and freezing the textile a strong continuous structural form is achieved. From rapid sequestration of carbon to products from food to construction, hemp is increasingly recognised as a wonder material for our planetary challenges, a ‘refuge crop’ for humans. Recent studies have also shown hemp to be performing as an important ‘refuge crop’ for bees and other insects which are under threat from biodiversity loss.2 Propolis is a suburb that suggests an architecture of coexistence.