Canada's entry to the 12th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, offers a vision for a new generation of responsive architecture. The collaborative work conceived by Philip Beesley is an immersive, interactive architectural installation fitted with arrays of sensors and kinetic devices. Lightweight interlinking systems are interwoven with next-generation chemistry that supports exchanges within the environment, in pursuit of an environment that `cares.' The book contains essays by theorists and designers, extended photography, and detailed design documents of the evolving project.
Contributions by Michelle Addington, Rachel Armstrong, William Elsworthy, Rob Gorbet, Eric Haldenby, Jonah Humphrey, Christian Joakim, Geoff Manaugh, Detlef Mertins, Neil Spiller, and Cary Wolfe.
Hylozoic Ground is an immersive interactive environment made of tens of thousands of lightweight digitally fabricated components fitted with microprocessors and sensors. The glass-like fragility of this artificial forest is created by an intricate lattice of small transparent acrylic meshwork links, covered with a network of interactive mechanical fronds, filters, and whiskers. The environment is similar to a coral reef, following cycles of opening, clamping, filtering, and digesting. Arrays of touch sensors and shape-memory alloy actuators create waves of diffuse breathing motion, luring visitors into the shimmering depths of a forest of light.
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 system 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.