Imaginative, sustainable & award winning architecture

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Welsh Arts Win

Nominated as one of two finalists for a £6m transformation of the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.  A collaboration between 51%, Max Fordham, Price & Myers, Castle-Davies and Counterculture.


Spaces to playfully explore and expose the buildings and site whilst maximising the existing and new spaces, improving connections between them and providing both a stunning canvas for artists’ work and an exciting experience for visitors. As density and visitor numbers increase, we need more areas of delight across the site. Roof terraces and cloistered courtyards link the café, bars and foyers with a larger variety of arts and performance spaces.

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Winning designs rolled out in central London

51% Studios winning Habi-Sabi designs rolled out for companies in central London, including Google

habi-sabi swift-box central-st-giles london-eye

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Habi-Sabi manufacturing & despatch

Winning designs for the InMidtown’s Habi-Sabi Beehive, Swift & Bat Box and Planter have gone through a number of iterations and prototypes, have been tested by their respective end users and are finally cut, packaged and ready to dispatch to the businesses of InMidtown.

51% Studios’ Habi-Sabi design is a rooftop family of rapidly deployable flatpack urban habitats. They are made from one material, use two tools to assemble for each item and employ three joints: a tooth, a peg and a lock. Designs are CNC cut at Wupdoodle in Suffolk from an eco-friendly recycled material called Barsmark PT-200.

If you are an InMidtown member and would be interested in hosting a Habi-Sabi Beehive, Swift & Bat Box or Planter, please contact us at

Standard ship­ping is flatpack for self assem­bly (comes with manual).

 View: Habi-Sabi for InMidtown


InMidtown Beehive: Prototype success

51% studios InMidtown Beehive prototype has been living on the 7th floor of the Olswang offices for the past 5 weeks to ensure that the bees will thrive in this new hive. At 51% Studios, the end user is an important part of the design process, so we were all eager to see whether the research into hive design and new materials had paid off to create a comfortable new home for the bees.

The beehive is in a roof garden enclosed by other office buildings. The plants surrounding the hive help to create a food and pollen rich environment in which the bees can thrive.

While exposed to the sun during the testing period, the beehive has weathered to a beautiful golden hue. The material is made of 100% recycled Kingspan insulation and retains some insulation properties. It is also water resistant and has a 25 year life span so it provides a secure, warm and dry environment for the bees.

At the end of August urban beekeeper Dr Luke Dixon declared the InMidtown Habi-Sabi beehive a success. The bees were relaxed in the hive and have been producing dark (Chestnut) and light (Lime) honey.  Production has begun to replace all of InMidtown’s hives with these new hives, which will also be available to members of the public.

Along with the Habi-Sabi Beehive, 51% Studios have designed a Planter and a Swift & Bat Box as part of their winning entry in the InMidtown Habitats Competition run by the Architecture Foundation.

View: Habi-Sabi for InMidtown

Habi-Sabi wins Architecture Foundation Competition

Animal habitats that are fast, adaptable and metropolitan

flatpack beehive swift bat box tiny pool planter and gravel tray

Habi-Sabi has won the competition run by inmidtown and the Architecture Foundation. Prototypes were launched at an exhibition in Renzo Piano’s Central Saint Giles in February 2012. The winning design will be produced and installed on the rooftops and terraces of businesses around Holborn and St Giles.

Habi-Sabi is a rooftop family of flat pack objects made from a single material (aside from the tiny pool, which is made from recycled wind turbine blades), it only needs two tools to assemble – a mallet to knock together and a screwdriver to secure the swift and bat box to the wall. It employs three joints: a tooth, a peg and a lock. Inspiration for the flat pack designs was drawn from the IKEA manual.

The material used is Barsmark PT-200, recycled from the linings and fibres of cars, fridges and insulation products. It provides weathering and weight advantages over steel and timber. It ages a soft golden brown and needs no finishing.

At the launch ornithologist and Goodies actor Bill Oddie stressed the importance of encouraging a wider variety of birds to our city centres by improving our urban ecologies by providing water, food and shelter for birds and insects.

The Habi-Sabi collection is designed to do just this, with an emphasis on providing food and water, not just shelter. The planter is augmented with a tiny pool to provide water for birds and bees, which spills over onto a tray of gravel, leaving little traces of moisture for plants and invertebrates to take hold: together they form a series of micro habitat landscapes which even with, or perhaps even because of, benign neglect, can provide a truly useful resource for wildlife in our cities.

The design of bee hives has remained similar for nearly 100 years. By simplifying and modernising the hive design around the British National Standard, the Habi-Sabi hive embraces the DIY tendencies of beekeepers, offering a self-assembly flat-pack design requiring no pins or glue, using standard London Stocks as ballast and insulating better than timber.

Before design began, we walked the area with London Swift’s Edward Mayer to confirm our hunch that the swift, the summer visiting aerial acrobat, might adopt the Midtown area because they can fly for miles to find food and catch rain drops in the air. All they really need from us is somewhere safe and high to rear their young, preferably amonst a colony of other swifts. Swifts nests, unusually, also need no maintenance.

Adopting a citizen science approach inspired by technical expert Peter Holden, with whom we have previously collaborated, we would like to suggest webcams be fitted to some of the boxes, to allow the community to engage via internet, perhaps on billboards, in semi-public spaces or in the children’s ward of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Given that most of the exciting stuff will happen high up and out of the way, this could be a strong and inclusive way for the whole community to engage with their biodiverse city.

“Simple and easy to install, we particularly liked the fact this collection had a system for collecting rain water for birds and bees to drink, and also included a rubble tray that the water drips onto to create tiny pools.  Gravelly, brownfield habitat is really important to a host of creatures in London, including rare insects.”  The Londonist BY HELENBABBS · MARCH 28, 2012

“All of the units are cleverly designed so you would only need a mallet and a screwdriver to complete the whole job of putting them together and installing them. They’re intended for flat roofs, yards and otherwise inaccessible walls – just the sort of out-of-the-way crevices that people tend to forget about but could provide valuable homes for wild birds, bats and insects.”  The Telegraph BY IAN DOUGLAS · MAY 2, 2012

Habi-Sabi items will be available  for inmidtown members soon. Standard shipping is flat-pack for self assembly (comes with manual)
51% Studios Architecture: Catherine du Toit, Billy Sinclair, Matt Smith, Peter Thomas
Thanks: Atsushi Iwata, Edward Mayer
Technical expert advice: Luke Dixon, Kelly Gunnell, Peter Holden
© 51% Studios Architecture
Images © 51% Studios Architecture & Catherine du Toit, Peter Thomas, Peter Holden, Billy Sinclair.

View: Habi-Sabi for InMidtown

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