For the 12th International Architecture Exhibition Hylozoic Ground
transforms the Canada Pavilion with an immersive, interactive environment made of tens of thousands of lightweight digitally-fabricated components fitted with meshed microprocessors and sensors. The glass-like fragility of this artificial forest is built of 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 create waves of diffuse breathing motion, luring visitors into the shimmering depths of a forest of light. The project is designed by Philip Beesley, Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, with engineering director Rob Gorbet, experimental chemist Rachel Armstrong, and many collaborators.
The projects 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.