Concrete insect hotel
A design for an insect hotel made of concrete has won a prize the best innovative use of concrete. The idea is to provide shelter for various insects during the cold winter months. The prize was awarded by CementenBeton, a Dutch organisation that promotes the use of concrete and cement.
We know how environmentally unfriendly concrete is, in particular because its production uses so much energy. Put to good use, however, a decent concrete construction will last longer than almost any other building material. So why not make use of this in an eco-project?
That is precisely what Erik Bretveld did. His hibernation blocks consist of modified concrete blocks, measuring 100x100x200mm or 200x200x400mm. Holes are created during the casting of the blocks using pegs inside the mould.
Each hole is a different size, ranging between 2mm and 14mm wide. The holes tunnel straight into the blocks to a depth of 150mm. This principle is intended to provide shelter for all kinds of insects. As they crawl into a suitable hole, they seal themselves in with a waxy coating, and settle in for the winter.
Arranging the blocks as a retaining wall against an earthen rampart means that they receive extra warmth from the rear, increasing the insects’ comfort.
Due to its mass, the concrete warms up slowly, but also retains its warmth for a long time. This helps keep the ambient temperature steady for the insects using the blocks.
The design also raises a point about our modern environment. Large public spaces are covered in hermetic expanses of material. This can provide a suitable urban landscape, but it fails to take into account the necessities of some of the smaller city-dwellers. With the concrete insect hotel, this could change for the better.