Living Architecture Systems

Philip Beesley
Philip Beesley Architect Inc.

Philip Beesley’s Living Architecture System Group at the University of Waterloo is exploring new kind of building systems that raise fundamental questions about how architecture might behave in the future. Might future buildings begin to know and care about us? Might they start, in very primitive ways, to become alive? This experimental new work draws together multiple disciplines that include next-generation lightweight structures, interactive robotics, and synthetic biology in pursuit of a kind of architecture that comes close to being alive. Visualizing this responsive architecture presents formidable challenges, and it also offers striking opportunities for thinking and working with complex systems.

Recent projects are composed of towering transparent acrylic arches and flexible silicon, creating quilt-like patterns and composite structures. Custom glasswork vessels housing synthetic biology and translucent filtering elements expand the skeletons to form hovering surfaces that interplay with shadow and light. Distributed sensors and mechanisms are controlled by arrays of microprocessors that give these environments the power to sense and perceive, reacting to the presence of visitors with machinic curiosity and by delicate waves of light, motion and choruses of murmuring sounds. The work is being created by a group of architects, engineers, scientists, and artists from Canada, the U.S., and Europe within the Living Architecture Systems Group. Their design methods are being used to train new generations of architects and engineers, providing them with skills to work with complex and interconnected sustainable environments.

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