Image credit: Philip Beesley and Alex Willms/PBAI

'Astrocyte' explores how architecture can interact with humans

486 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
    Image credit: Philip Beesley and Alex Willms/PBAI

    Sponsored Links

    Philip Beesley's Astrocyte aims to show that architecture can be more than just ornamental. Built from acrylic, mylar, sensors, custom glasswork, 3D-printed lights and using AI, chemistry and a responsive soundscape, it not only invokes emotional reactions but reacts to participants' movements and gestures. The giant, delicate-looking structure (inspired by astrocyte nerve cells), also prompts unusually respectful interactions from human observers.

    The aerial scaffold structure was part of Toronto's Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology (EDIT 2017), and hosted at an abandoned Unilever soap-manufacturing factory. It was built from 300,000 components by Philip Beesley Architect Inc. (PBAI), in collaboration with Beesley's Living Architecture Systems Group at the University of Waterloo.

    Astrocyte responds to viewers movements with patterns of light, surround sound and vibrations not unlike signals propagating along a nerve. The glasswork also holds oils and chemicals meant to represent the structure and energies of organic life. With the artwork, Beesley and his Living Architecture group are also exploring future building materials that could self-repair or alter spaces through media, light and sound.

    "PBAI Studio works with a wide consortium of artists, engineers, scientists, and researchers as a central member of the Living Architecture Systems research group," Beesley told Farmboy Fine Arts. "We explore the possibilities of next generation architecture, responsive environments, digital media and immersive sculpture. So we are asking, how might buildings and our environments begin to know and care about us? And might they start, in very primitive ways, to become alive?"

    Astrocyte is based on "biophilic" architecture and design, which posits that humans innately seek to connect with nature. Much like with some types of vegetation and other natural systems, it looks fragile but is tough enough to handle interaction with exhibition participants.

    "The work is robust, yet delicate in nature, and this seems to encourage different ways of acting," Beesley said. "Observing people interacting with these spaces is quite striking because extraordinarily gentle and respectful responses tend to happen. Have we caused someone to experience a different, and perhaps healthier form of interaction?"

    Astrocyte was created in partnership with 4D Sound, with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Arts Council.

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
    Comment
    Comments
    Share
    486 Shares
    Share
    Tweet
    Share

    Popular on Engadget

    16-bit 'Aladdin' and 'Lion King' cartridges are returning in 2020

    16-bit 'Aladdin' and 'Lion King' cartridges are returning in 2020

    View
    Samsung's fix for Galaxy S10 fingerprint scanning will roll out soon

    Samsung's fix for Galaxy S10 fingerprint scanning will roll out soon

    View
    Apple Pay is more popular than Starbucks for US mobile payments

    Apple Pay is more popular than Starbucks for US mobile payments

    View
    Tesla turns a profit as it spins up trial production in Shanghai

    Tesla turns a profit as it spins up trial production in Shanghai

    View
    Four new 'Adventure Time' specials are heading to HBO Max

    Four new 'Adventure Time' specials are heading to HBO Max

    View

    From around the web

    Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr