Distinguished Speaker 12 – Philip Beesley

Condensing and Diffusing Architecture
May 7th, 2015, from 6 – 8pm

As part of Place, Architecture, and Responsive Environments (P.A.R.E) – a three-week research-creation residency hosted by the Topological Media Lab (TML) of Concordia University – Hexagram Distinguished Speakers Series in collaboration with the TML is proud to present world renown architect and installation artist, Philip Beesley.

Hexagram – Black Box
Concordia University
1515 Sainte Catherine St. West EV OS3-845/855

Buildings can move from classical ideas of a static world of closed boundaries toward the expanded physiology and dynamic form of a metabolism. Instead of valuing resistance and closure, design for thermal exchange could result in new form-languages based on maximum interaction. Architecture could be founded on adaptation and uncertainty where acquiring and shedding heat play in uneven cycles. The densely layered forms of a jungle are often made of diffusive, deeply interwoven materials that expand and interact with their surroundings. The kind of diffusive forms seen in reticulated snowflakes and the microscopic manifolds of mitochondria have a common form-language of radical exfoliation. Writ large, these forms speak of involvement with the world. These kinds of forms offer delicacy, resonance and resilience.

Exploring these themes, Philip Beesley will present recent work by the Living Architecture Systems group from Waterloo. The collective combines the crafts of lightweight textile structures, dense arrays of distributed computer controls with machine learning, and early systems of artificial-life chemistry. New architectural installations within the collaboration feature dense reticulated grottos with breathing, reactive, near-living qualities. Thin layers of voided hovering filters are tuned for delicate kinetic and chemical responses taking the form of expanded physiologies, sharing space with viewers.

Diffusive Architectures Workshop: Living Architecture Systems

This workshop is for TML and Hexagram members only. Register by emailing: pare@topologicalmedialab.net
May 8th, 2015, from 10 – 5pm

The theories of Ilya Prigogine, the great 20th century physicist, proposed a set of paradigms that seem to dramatically contrast with core assumptions that have guided western architecture. Seemingly opposing the stable world of Vitruvian architecture, Prigogine proposed diffusion and dissipation as key terms for understanding how materials could interact in a dynamic, constantly evolving and self-organizing world. Framed within a general exploration of interactive architecture, this workshop will follow readings and design explorations related to the dynamic form-languages implied by these new conceptions. ’Quasiperiodic’ geometries organizing complex systems, active chemical metabolisms and networks of sensing and memory will be imagined and described, seeking hybrid topologies composed of multiple interconnected and interdependent systems. Material from the Living Architecture Systems Group of Waterloo Architecture, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Knowledge Integration will be included.

Through a combination of demonstration, sketching, and writing, the workshop will explore the potential qualities of complex spatial organizations and interconnected systems, seeking renewed paradigms for design.


Philip Beesley is a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. A practitioner of architecture and digital media art, he was educated in visual art at Queen’s University, in technology at Humber College, and in architecture at the University of Toronto. His Toronto-based practice PBAI is an interdisciplinary design firm that combines public buildings with exhibition design, stage and lighting projects. Beesley’s work contemplates the ability of an environment to be near-living, to stimulate intimate evocations of compassion with viewers through artificial intelligence and mechanical empathy. The conceptual roots of this work lie in ‘hylozoism’, the ancient belief that all matter has life. His work was selected to represent Canada at the 2010 Venice Biennale for Architecture, and he has been recognized by the Prix de Rome in Architecture, VIDA 11.0, FEIDAD, two Governor General’s Awards, Architizer A+ Art Award and as a Katerva finalist.


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