Matthew Neville

£12m Oxfordshire ‘Bee House’ workspace project creates a buzz with sustainability features

The team at Milton Park has worked to ensure that the Bee House, Oxfordshire’s largest, newest collaborative workspace, is at the forefront of sustainable innovation.

Located at 140 Eastern Avenue, the launch of the Bee House in May will mark the end of a £12.4m refurbishment. Before being reinvented as the Bee House, the building originally was home to IT firm RM and had served as such since the 1980s.

The Bee House will be electrically cooled and heated using a green renewable energy tariff. Occupiers will be able to control the temperature in their own environment by turning off the lights once they have left, via a dedicated Bee House app.

ASA Landscape Architects has designed a SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) for the site that will attract wildlife and help to prevent flooding. Space previously used for car-parking has been replaced to make room for bioretention swales.

These swales will clean water from the paving and the building’s roof, while also creating inviting seating areas for occupiers. Meanwhile, the use of an “innovative gravel mulch” system will help to reduce the need for weeding and keep moisture within the soils. A series of living plants and moss walls will also feature inside the building.

A water course previously screened by the parking area has been opened up to create a new wildflower meadow, designed to attract buzzing bees and other pollinators throughout much of the year. A bespoke bee hotel has also been introduced, integrating branded signage with a home for solitary bees.

Milton Park is currently home to two separate beehives, with plans in the pipeline to increase this to four later in the year. Once ready, the team at Milton Park hope to harvest the honey generated from the beehives and give jars away to occupiers.

Kathryn Andrew, Assistant Development Manager at MEPC Milton Park, explains more about the Bee House’s sustainability credentials: “We’re very excited to be counting the days until the Bee House’s launch in May, which will give us the opportunity to showcase the building’s sustainable qualities.”

“As part of the building’s refurbishment, we’re targeting BREEAM ‘Excellent’ recognition, the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for infrastructure and buildings, and an A-rating Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), the highest possible.”

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