Philip Beesley

Currently based
Toronto, Canada
Affiliated institution
University of Waterloo

Philip Beesley is a professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. A practitioner of architecture and digital media art, he was educated in visual art at Queen’s University, in technology at Humber College, and in architecture at the University of Toronto. At Waterloo he serves as Director for the Integrated Group for Visualization, Design and Manufacturing, and as Director for Riverside Architectural Press. He also holds the position of Examiner at University College London. His Toronto-based practice PBAI is an interdisciplinary design firm that combines public buildings with exhibition design, stage and lighting projects. The studio’s methods incorporate industrial design, digital prototyping, and mechatronics engineering. Philip Beesley’s work is widely cited in the rapidly expanding technology of responsive architecture. He has authored and edited eight books and appeared on the cover of Artificial Life (MIT), LEONARDO and AD journals. Features include national CBC news, Casa Vogue, WIRED, and a series of TED talks. His work was selected to represent Canada at the 2010 Venice Biennale for Architecture, and he has been recognized by the Prix de Rome in Architecture, VIDA 11.0, FEIDAD, two Governor General’s Awards and as a Katerva finalist. Beesley’s funding includes core CFI, SSHRC, NSERC and Canada Council for the Arts grants.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Responsive and distributed architectural environments and interactive systems, flexible lightweight structures integrating kinetic functions, microprocessing, sensor and actuator systems, with particular focus on digital fabrication methods and sheet-material derivations. Comprehensive architectural design and professional practice. textile structures; material crafts and fabrication; organicism and design integrated with nature; hybrid forms of nature. Emotion, romanticism and 20th century spiritualism as alternate qualities in Modernism; alterity and dissociation; chthonian and expanded definitions of space; the archaic. Current applied projects include solar-powered high-performance housing envelopes in exterior sites and architectural-scale geotextiles in museum spaces.

Philip Beesley Architect Inc.
Philip Beesley Architect Inc. (PBAI) is an interdisciplinary design firm located in Toronto, Canada, associated with the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. The studio’s design methods combine the durable crafts of heavy machining and building with advanced digital visualization, industrial design, digital prototyping, and mechatronics engineering. Sculptural work in the past three decades has focused on immersive textile environments, landscape installations and intricate geometric structures. The most recent generations of these works feature interactive lighting systems and kinetic mechanisms that use dense arrays of microprocessors and sensors. Chemical protocell metabolisms are in the early stages of development within many of these environments. These works contemplate the ability of an environment to be near-living, to stimulate intimate evocations of compassion with viewers through artificial intelligence and mechanical empathy. The conceptual roots of this work lie in 'hylozoism', the ancient belief that all matter has life.
PBAI is led by experimental sculptor/architect Philip Beesley. Current collaborators include Rachel Armstrong, Philippe Baylaucq, Martin Correa, Rob Gorbet, Jon Gotfryd, Martin Hanczyc, Iris van Herpen, Mark-David Hosale, Dana Kulic, Andrea Ling, Sal Miranda, Anne Paxton, Rolf Seifert, Michael Stacey and Mingyi Zhou. Currently there are 15 artists, scientists, architects, and engineers within the collective.

2011 Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Architecture
1996 Prix de Rome residency: Vatican Secret Archives, British School at Rome, American Academy at Rome
1996 Principal, Philip Beesley Architect Inc.
1981 - 1986 Bachelor of Architecture, University of Toronto
1981 Dip. Tech., Architectural and Mechanical Drafting, Humber College, Toronto
1978 Visual Artist
1973 - 1978 Bachelor of Fine Art, Queen’s University