Refuge is a planter designed to protect and celebrate native Australian insects. The modular terracotta pot supplies insects with shelter, moisture, and nectar, whilst offering busy city dwellers a restful experience.
Rapid urbanisation along with a range of other factors is causing insect populations to decline. Which is plunging the world towards ecosystem collapse. Despite this, insects are often overlooked for conservation projects and vilified by the general public.
Therefore, the challenge was to counter negative narratives around insects though mutually beneficial interactions between humans and insects in habitat poor urban areas.
Inspiration on how to achieve these objectives came from the ancient technology of terracotta cooling. When the user waters the native flower in the pot at the top, the staked terracotta modules absorb the water and create a cool, moist environment within. Thus, a soothing practice for the human user provides the insects with shelter, water, and nectar.
Refuge was carefully designed to be sustainable. The frosted soda lime glass cover is 100% recyclable. the Victorian Ash base is recyclable, local sourced, durable, and stores carbon. Finally, the terracotta is completely natural with an almost 0% waste production process.
Encouraging positive interactions between insects and humans, in our human centric urban areas is of great social and environmental value. Refuge intends to help people reconnect with nature, which has been shown to improve mental and physical health as well as the amount people value and protect nature. This in turn would likely result in increased support for and participation in insect conservation from individual gardens to community projects.
On a smaller scale Refuge’s ability to attract insects would benefit the users garden by; increasing pollination, breaking down organic matter, keeping pest populations in check, and aerating the soil.
In order to encourage the human users to interact with Refuge it was carefully designed to be fun and beautiful. Users are empowered to choose the parts, sizes, and glaze colour they want on a website. Which they can then stack and combine however and wherever they choose. Once arranged, the warm earthy colours and curved asymmetric pots convey a sense of calm and growth, emphasized by the frosted glass cover.
These aesthetic features also have practical applications. The glass cover adds humidity which changes what insects are attracted. And the asymmetric pots create small gaps that allow insects in and not their larger predators.