Waterloo collaboration wins big at 2015 AZ Awards from Azure magazine

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hand reaching out to glassy materialThe Living Architecture Systems Group, led by two University of Waterloo professors, including Department of Knowledge Integration chair, Rob Gorbet, received AZURE’s 2015 AZ Award in Temporary/Demonstration Architecture for their highly-acclaimed interactive installation, Epiphyte Chamber

The AZ Awards are presented to completed works standing out for innovative design, environmental or social benefits or for being simply delightful. An international jury of five architects and designers selected one winner for each of the 19 award categories, among 720 entries from 43 countries.

Philip Beesley, a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo and Gorbet accepted both the Jury Award and the People’s Choice Award on behalf of the Living Architecture team.

The installation involved over a dozen international collaborators, designers and an international production team working for several months in Canada and South Korea.

Rob Gorbet holding an award"The work I've been doing with Philip since 2005 is a great example of Knowledge Integration,” Gorbet said. “The skills to be able to work in a team combining science, architecture, design, technology, and art with an understanding of human behaviour, are precisely those we teach in KI.  My work with the Living Architecture Systems Group provides great opportunities to both practice and study how interdisciplinary groups work together."

Epiphyte Chamber was unveiled as part of the inaugural Aleph Exhibition at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea, November 12, 2013 to March 14, 2014. South Korean President Guen-Ye Park acclaimed the work as a model for the way South Korea should integrate its culture and technology.

Epiphyte Chamber is envisioned as an archipelago of interconnected halo-like masses that mimic human sensations through subtle, coordinated movements. The work is conceived as an 'epiphyte'; an aerial plant species that can grow without the support of soil. Across each floating island, densely interwoven structures and delicate canopies made of thousands of lightweight digitally-fabricated components are drawn together in nearly-synchronized breathing and whispers.

Audiences walk into highly sensual, intimate sculptural spaces that support small clusters of activity interlinking into larger gathering areas. This experimental new work explores intersections between media art, interactive distributed mechatronics and synthetic biology.

Based at the University of Waterloo, The Living Architecture Systems Group (LASG) brings together international researchers and industry collaborators in an interdisciplinary research cluster dedicated to an emerging trend of architectural design that explores complex ways in which the term “living” might apply to buildings.

LASG is developing built environments with qualities that come strikingly close to life; environments that can move, respond, and learn; environments that grow themselves through chemical systems, and that are adaptive and empathic toward their inhabitants. 

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