360 Speaker Series: Philip Beesley

August 29, 2015 2 pm 8/29/2015 12:00 AM 8/29/2015 12:00 AM

Philip Beesley's Toronto-based practice PBAI is an interdisciplinary design firm that combines public buildings with exhibition design, stage and lighting projects. Beesley's work is widely cited in the rapidly expanding technology of responsive architecture. He  presents recent work by the Living Architecture group that offers a new set of design paradigms.

This event was presented in collaboration with the Ad Astra Lecture Series of the Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The presentation suggests that conception of buildings can move from classical ideas of a static world of closed boundaries toward the expanded physiology and dynamic form of a metabolism. Working with artists, engineers and scientists, Beesley’s Living Architecture research group combines the crafts of lightweight textile structures and mechanisms, dense arrays of distributed computer controls with machine learning, and early systems of artificial-life chemistry.  New installations within the collaboration feature dense reticulated grottos with breathing, reactive, near-living qualities. Recent constructions have included a wide range of scales, from intimate details rendered in clothing for couture, to canopies and construction systems for urban spaces. Details from the emerging work show a preoccupation with intimate human touch interacting with extremely lightweight materials diffusing into the surrounding air. Thin layers of voided hovering filters are tuned for delicate kinetic and chemical responses that cohere in the form of expanded physiologies, beckoning and sharing space with viewers.

“For me when I think about making a building, I really want to focus on where we might be as a people, and what we might experience together and what we hope for. Even what we might become in the future. When I think about art, I want to think about what we can think and dream together. How significant that is, and how it matters. And also how we take responsibility for things. So for me those two terms come together and actually become indistinguishable.”
–Philip Beesley  

Philip Beesley Biography 

Philip Beesley is a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. 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. At Waterloo he serves as Director for the Integrated Group for Visualization, Design and Manufacturing, and as Director for Riverside Architectural Press. His studio's methods incorporate industrial design, digital prototyping, and mechatronics engineering. He has authored and edited eight books and appeared on the cover of Artificial Life (MIT), LEONARDO and AD journals. Features include national CBC news, Casa Vogue, WIRED, and a series of TED talks. 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. Beesley's funding includes core CFI, SSHRC, NSERC, TAC, OAC and Canada Council grants.

Sponsored by Sylvia Hougland.
Supported in part by: City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs


Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
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