Student’s conservation project creates a buzz in Avenham Park

19 June 2019

Work aims to raise awareness of bumblebee plight

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has used her final year project as an opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of the bumblebee.

As part of her degree in interior design, 23-year-old Mariya Ipli, from Zambia, Africa, was inspired to create a new design for the Belvedere building in Preston’s Avenham Park, transforming it into a place where humans could interact with bees.

It’s estimated that one third of the UK’s bee population has disappeared over the past 10 years.  

When the UK experienced the warmest day in February on record this year, it got Mariya thinking about the impact global warming is having on wildlife.

She set about drawing up designs for the existing structure, including several bee hives and ‘human hives,’ a craft centre where people could learn about honey extraction and create honey-and wax based products and an observation deck.

Every aspect of the project, including the use of reclaimed wood as materials, was designed to be eco-friendly, with an emphasis on architecture that blends seamlessly with nature.

Having completed a two year diploma in Interior Design in South Africa, Mariya decided to embark upon studies in the UK to gain further experience. During the process, out of all the universities Mariya applied for she found UCLan to be the most positive and friendly.

"I have always believed that as humans we should give something back to the environment because we tend to keep taking. What better way to do it than through design"

Mariya said: “I have always believed that as humans we should give something back to the environment because we tend to keep taking. What better way to do it than through design – a lot of people don’t realise what a great impact it can have on the world.  The environment has always been very important to me and it’s something we need to really be aware of before it’s too late.

“Studying at UCLan has been one of my most favourite ever experiences, I’m so pleased I chose to study here. My tutors have been really supportive and the opportunities I’ve been given have been fantastic.

“I’d also like to thank a friend of mine from Zambia who has been an inspiration and supported me throughout my journey, always pushing me to achieve the best.”

After graduation, Mariya plans to return to Africa or South Africa and use her experience and developed skills to begin work as a freelance interior designer.

“There is lots happening in those countries in terms of construction and new developments, which means there will be many opportunities for me to put what I’ve learnt at UCLan to use.”

Mariya’s project will be on display at UCLan’s Preston campus from 14-23 June as part of the University’s Degree Shows, a showcase of the work of more than 450 final year undergraduate students across a variety of disciplines within the Faculty of Culture and the Creative Industries.

The Degree Shows are open daily with work on display in five buildings. More information is available on the UCLan Degree Shows website – and people can also keep up with events by following #UCLanDegreeShows on Twitter.  For more information, email