Venice Architecture Biennale 2010: Toronto architect Philip Beesley has installed a forest of acrylic fronds that move as though breathing inside the Canada pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens this week.
Called Hylozoic Ground, the installation is covered in sensors, microprocessors, mechanical joints and filters. These allow the structure to move in response to its environment, drawing in and filtering moisture and organic particles from the air. The title refers to hylozoism, an ancient philosophical view that matter has life, and proposes a future city that would operate as a living being. Beesley collaborated with University of Waterloo engineering director Rob Gorbet and chemist Rachel Armstrong.
The project’s title refers to ‘hylozoism’, the ancient belief that all matter has life. Hylozoic Ground offers a vision for a new generation of responsive architecture. The Hylozoic Ground environment can be described as a suspended geotextile that gradually accumulates hybrid soil from ingredients drawn from its surroundings. Akin to the functions of a living system, embedded machine intelligence allows human interaction to trigger breathing, caressing, and swallowing motions and hybrid metabolic exchanges. These empathic motions ripple out from hives of kinetic valves and pores in peristaltic waves, creating a diffuse pumping that pulls air, moisture and stray organic matter through the filtering Hylozoic membranes. ‘Living’ chemical exchanges are conceived as the first stages of self-renewing functions that might take root within this architecture.
HYLOZOIC GROUND BOOK LAUNCH
Philip Beesley’s Hylozoic Ground publication, edited by Pernilla Ohrstedt and Hayley Isaacs, will be launched during the opening reception of the Hylozoic Ground installation. This book describes Philip Beesley’s Hylozoic Ground project as it has evolved over the past five years and includes generous design documentation and installation photographs. In addition to contributions by colleagues at PBAI and collaborators Rob Gorbet and Rachel Armstrong, the book contains a curated collection of essays by Michelle Addington, Geoff Manaugh, Neil Spiller, and Cary Wolfe. Preface by Eric Haldenby and Detlef Mertins.