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Living Architecture Systems Group -TAMU Exhibition Catalogue

Event Time: Monday, September 9, 2019 8:00 AM to Sunday, September 29, 2019 8:00 AM

Event Location: J. Wayne Stark Galleries on the campus of Texas A&M University. 

Texas A&M University Exhibition Catalogue
Can architecture come alive? Could future buildings think, and feel? The collaborative work of the Living Architecture Systems Group draws on a fundamental desire to dwell in living nature.
Researchers from the group are exploring these questions by designing new prototypes of experimental architecture. These extremely lightweight, flexible structures are interwoven with miniature computers controlling mechanisms that can sense, explore, and learn from viewers. The work is organized the same as a coral reef or a swarm of insects, with large numbers of many individual parts. These systems are connected together, passing signals back and forth so that the entire environment works as a whole. Interconnected vessels contain a liquid synthetic biology that can absorb and exchange materials from the atmosphere. Digitally fabricated components make meshwork scaffolds with mechanical fronds that gently stir the air. Cricket-like acoustic mechanisms make constantly-shifting choruses of whisper sounds, responding to movement of viewers. Working together, these systems suggest new ways of building adaptive, sensitive buildings of the future.
The Living Architecture collaboration includes architects, engineers and industrial designers from research centres within North America and Europe, led by artist and architect Philip Beesley of Waterloo Architecture. Design methods from the Living Architecture Systems Group are now being used to train emerging generations of architects and engineers, providing them with the skills they need to work with complex interconnected sustainable environments.
The close connection between living nature and architecture is a persistent and enduring theme across cultures. In the west it has come to be called Organicism. In this exhibition you will see the results of ongoing research on "living architecture" by the Living Architecture Systems Group. This research traces its roots back in the aesthetic philosophy of Organicism. Organicism defines a deep yearning to learn from nature, searching for a new language for architecture. This research has the potential to transform the way we dwell within the natural world that is all around us-- the sky above, earth below, winds gusting, birds migrating, the sun and the moon rising and falling on the horizon.  
The exhibition demonstrates strategies of invention and interpretation expressed with contemporary materials and technologies. The strategy of invention operates through a deep understanding of living nature. The strategy of interpretation is based on the belief that everything on earth is interconnected into a unity.
Architects often reach out to the natural sciences, continuing the tradition of earlier architects who studied taxonomy to order the animal kingdom based on the formal attributes of their skeletons. In that worldview, nature was interpreted through stone, wood, color, to give the illusion of living nature. Stone leaves on columns capitals and the veins of marble on floors tiles were meant to infuse architecture with a sense of living nature and geological time.

Early on this new architectural language of carved stones invited spiritual energies to come in and infuse the building. During the fin de siecle, the malaise from the impact of the overwhelming industrialization generated an urgent need to connect with nature. Plans of organicist buildings from the past century were often conceived as a series of rooms shaped like the organs of an animal, each organ having its own function, each function its proper size and hierarchy to create a sense of unity. These public buildings were symmetrical in plan and like an animal the front differed from the back. Once inside, decorations inspired from plants and animals covered every possible interior surface.
Today, the sense of urgency stemming from the ecological crisis reaches to Organicism and draws it back into the conversation. The early 20th century German theorist Ernst Gadamer suggests that viewers find a deep sense of "coming home" linked to the past through the long tradition of Organicism. Yet a beauty of Organicism lies in the fact that one does not need to know about this historical tradition in order to come home. Contemporary digital technologies allow for systems that move far beyond the representation of nature, providing opportunities for greater complexity. 
In the current exhibition components activated by micro-processors create rippling motions that respond to changes in the environment and the presence of occupants. Poetic qualities are evoked by the interconnectivity created by the designer. Viewers are invited to reconnect with an ancient yearning for dwelling in living nature.

15 books published by the LASG

Featured Projects

  2. Beauty Show (Traveling exhibition)
  3. MAK: Museum of Applied Arts
  4. Vienna, Austria, October 2018 - 2022
  5. Frankfurt, Germany, 2019
  6. Hamburg Germany: Museum of Arts and Crafts, 2019 - 2020
  7. Bregenz Austria: Vorarlberg Museum, 2020 - 2021
  8. Cognac France: Fondation d'entreprise 2021
  9. Lisbon Portugal: MAAT, 2022
Grotto-like accreted spherical meshworks contain densely massed protocell flasks, surrounded by a cloud of lace-like skeletal membranes. The Beauty Show: Liminal Architecture features innovative conception and fabrication methods of cross-linked double-shell scaffold systems, yielding a stiffened foam-like reticulum that afforded substantial structural performance.
Venice Biennale of Architecture, Venice, Italy, 2010
Philip Beesley worked with a collaborative team of designers, scientists and engineers to present Hylozoic Ground, Canada’s entry to the 2010 Venice Biennale for Architecture. Hylozoic Ground was an immersive interactive environment that proposed a vision for a possible future architecture. 
Within the sculpture, hundreds of thousands of lightweight components were digitally fabricated, and assembled into clusters fitted with microprocessors and proximity sensors that reacted to human presence. The responsive environment functioned like a giant lung, breathing in and around its viewers. Prototype chemical cells housed in masses of glass flasks showed slow reactions, translating carbon dioxide from the environment into harmless deposits akin to limestone and chalk. Arrays of touch sensors and shape-memory alloy actuator created waves of empathic motion, luring visitors into the artificial forest environment.

National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C., USA, 2015
Sentient Chamber stands as the entry installation to the main auditorium of the National Academy of Sciences, the historic centre located on the Washington Mall dedicated to scientific research and advice to the government of the United States. The ability to be sentient – to feel and respond to sensation – requires perception. Sentient Chamber is brought to life as it perceives and interacts with the audience that moves through it. Driven by computer-generated curiosity, the installation reaches out to viewers, drawing them in as it seeks to create mutual relationships of exchange. 
Sentient Chamber’s form begins with its skeleton: bundles of hexagonal meshwork steel and acrylic spars that support the Chamber as a free-standing structure. The highly efficient quilt-like patterns can handle shifting forces coming from all directions. This flexible, tough structure offers innovative ways of forming tomorrow’s architecture.
Audiences are tracked by arrays of proximity-detecting sensors, providing constantly-changing feedback to the networks of microprocessors within the system. Nested clusters of sensors and mechanisms are programmed with algorithms that mimic curiosity, giving Sentient Chamber the power to react to visitors with constantly-changing patterns of light, gentle motion and soft murmuring sounds. Custom glasswork vessels enclose prototype liquid cells with delicate skin-forming reactions. With more development, these chemical skins could be used to form larger surfaces that changes with the seasons, like ivy covering and protecting a building. The structure and behavior of this Chamber suggests ways that buildings of the future might be developed into creations that can think, feel, and grow.