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Behind the Scenes

The Making of Meander

Philip Beesley is a multidisciplinary artist and designer. His research is widely cited for its pioneering contributions to the rapidly emerging field of responsive interactive architecture.

Visit Meander

The Systems Within Meander

The sculpture Meander offers a vision of future architecture. Can architecture come alive? Could future buildings think, and care? This sculpture is a ‘test bed’ that supports ongoing research about human interaction with responsive environments.

The work is organized as a series of species within an artificial ecosystem. These systems can gently flex and move in response to your presence. Similar to natural environments such as rivers and clouds, large groups of parts pass physical impulses and data signals back and forth. The entire environment works as an interconnected whole.

Meander takes inspiration from the Grand River, a complex ecosystem weaving its way through the centre of Cambridge, spanning geological time scale periods in its gradual formation. The Grand River tells stories of constant transformation.

What can we learn from nature and Meander to better understand our changing world? With this understanding, can we find a new future for the next generation?

The sculpture environment is a lightweight, flexible structure interwoven with computer-controlled parts that can sense, react and learn from viewers. Meander’s creators come from specialized disciplines, including architecture, engineering, fashion, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, mechanics, sound composition and light. This large international group is led by the University of Waterloo under the direction of artist and professor Philip Beesley. Sound artist Salvador Breed’s compositions are featured.

Design methods from the Living Architecture Systems Group are now being used to train emerging generations of artists, architects and engineers, providing them with the skills they need to work with interconnected sustainable environments.

Meander: The Craft of Art and Technology

True art is alive and inspired by humanity.

— Leonid Afremov

About the Artist


Philip Beesley directs the Living Architecture Systems Group (LASG), an international consortium of researchers, creators and industry partners. LASG explores questions such as whether architecture can integrate living functions and future buildings could think and care. Beesley and the LASG’s immersive installations integrate expertise in architecture, environmental design, visual art, digital media, engineering, machine learning, cognitive psychology, synthetic biology and knowledge integration. Collaborations with LASG artists, scientists and engineers has led to a diverse array of projects, from haute couture collections to complex electronic systems that can sense, react and learn.

Beesley is a professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo and Professor of Digital Design and Architecture & Urbanism at the European Graduate School. His work has been presented around the world including Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Copenhagen, Delft, Hong Kong, Madrid, Mexico City, Montreal, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rotterdam, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto and Washington D.C. Beesley represented Canada at the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture and will present a major new work in the main exhibition of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale. He has authored and edited numerous books and proceedings, and has been featured in Canadian and international media, including Vogue, WIRED, Artificial Life (MIT), LEONARDO, CBC, and a series of TED talks.

Meander: The Grand River Inspiration

TEDx A future of living architecture

Watch Philip Beesley’s Meander unveiling speech and presentation.