April 24, 2014
April 14, 2014
Movers and Starters: Neven Zeremski of Dubb
April 8, 2014
Pop-up Startup
April 1, 2014
Movers and Starters: Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Hasegawa of Bridgit
December 16, 2013
Movers and Starters: Chris Gory
December 11, 2013
Canada Post Says Goodbye to Door-To-Door Delivery in Urban Areas
Creative Process: Architect Philip Beesley
We reach the inner sanctum of one of Canada's most important living architects.

As I wait to interview Toronto-based, world-known architect Philip Beesley in his cozy library, my eyes quickly trace the books shelved around me: Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger… They say never judge a book by its cover but I think you can judge a person by his books. In this case, it’s true. Philip Beesley is a pioneer in the growing, experimental field of responsive architecture, the radical aim of which is to create buildings and structures that have ‘minds’ of their own. Once seen as static and permanent, this new architecture uses intelligent technologies (like sensors and chemical metabolisms) that enable them to measure environmental conditions and adapt accordingly in physical, visible ways. This is sometimes referred to as “living architecture,” but Beesley tells me he prefers the term “near-living.” Says he: “We need to be careful about what we claim. Some people are calling this living architecture, and of course we enjoy being associated with such an amazing term, but I’m interested in limiting the claim because ‘life’ is a very big word. This work doesn’t nearly approach the complexity that naturally living systems have.” His approach is distinctly interdisciplinary; the studio is organized as a collaborative collective of committed and flexible individuals with backgrounds in architecture, megatronics, mechanical engineering, electronics, computation, film making, writing and music. As well, he says, an interest in humanism and poetry is shared. That last bit was the Heidegger talking (am I psychic or what?), and from there, we spend half the interview talking about philosophers modern, like Peter Sloterdijk, and ancient, like Lucretius. Beesley’s creative process is inspired in equal parts by both. Representing Canada at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia, Beesley presented the aptly-named HylozoicGround, a magical environment made up of large acyclic fronds that move as though they were alive. Before leaving for the exhibition, CBC Newsinterviewed Beesley about his Hylozoic ground (bits of it actually present and ‘alive’), which left the interviewer kind of creeped out and uncomfortable. But why? “I think when something pushes back, it can be unsettling,” he says. “I wonder whether it has something to do with the scale. When we look at small elements like toys, acting and physically behaving, we think of them as cute because we can easily control them. But when something approaches our own scale…” Beesley doesn’t want to scare people, though. His brave idea of the future of architecture? ”A change in the pattern of ethics and architecture becoming an active, empathetic partner.” Here, we examine how he’s effecting that change. Aforementioned reading material. The most orderly moodboard we’ve ever seen, and one of many scattered throughout Beesley’s studio. The studio is constellated with the shiny bits of a new project. Technical sketches with a strangely romantic feel. Inflatable garlic bulbs! J/k, serious architecture. Ta-da! Hylozoic Ground on display at the Venice Biennale’s 12th Architecture Exhibition as part of the Canadian Pavilion. Like this? See all our previous Creative Processes.

  • TOP STORIES
  • MOST COMMENTED
  • RECENT
By Igor Bonifacic
April 17th, 2014
Industry Movers and Starters: Ian Carnevale of Fora
Read More
By Igor Bonifacic
April 28th, 2014
Industry Movers and Starters: Richard Liang of Preo
Read More
By Igor Bonifacic
April 22nd, 2014
Uncategorized Test post
Read More
By Igor Bonifacic
April 8th, 2014
Editors Pick Pop-up Startup
Read More
  • No article found.
  • By TS Editors
    March 10th, 2014
    Culture Revolutionizing the Beer Drinking Experience with the Sam Can (Sponsored)
    Read More
    By Jordan Sowunmi
    December 27th, 2013
    The Sprawl DO MAKE SAY HEAR: Five Things to Do in The City This Weekend
    Read More
    By Jordan Sowunmi
    December 26th, 2013
    The Sprawl Over 50,000 Torontonians Still Sitting in the Dark
    Read More
    By Jordan Sowunmi
    December 20th, 2013
    The Sprawl Supreme Court of Canada Deems Prostitution Laws Unconstitutional
    Read More

    SOCIETY SNAPS

    Society Snaps: Eric S. Margolis Foundation Launch

    Kristin Davis moved Toronto's philanthroists to tears ... then sent them all home with a baby elephant - Read More