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Large permanent living architecture sculpture unveiled in Cambridge, Ont.

A large permanent living architecture sculpture is now open to the public at the Tapestry Hall in Cambridge, ON. Created by artist and University of Waterloo Architecture professor Philip Beesley, with the Living Architecture Systems Group, Meander is a soaring installation of meshwork spheres, columns and canopies that suspends from the new event space along the grand river.

View of central hemispherical shell cluster, Meander, Cambridge, Canada, 2020 Courtesy of Philip Beesley Studio Inc./Living Architecture Systems Group

The sculpture is made up of a lightweight, flexible structure that is interwoven with radiant lattices of expanded metal and recycled transparent polymer. It is embedded with miniature computers and sensor arrays that can sense, react and learn from its environment and the behaviour of its audiences.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we are all interconnected and interdependent,” said Philip Beesley. “While the urge may be strong in these challenging days to put up boundaries and retreat into our individual silos, to do so inevitably weakens society. It is only through embracing joyful and curious openness and exchange that we can sustainably address challenges moving forward.”

Panoramic view of central shell cluster and flanking canopies, Meander, Cambridge, Canada, 2020 Courtesy of Philip Beesley Studio Inc./Living Architecture Systems Group

Like the ecosystem of the Grand River that inspired it, Meander is made of many tiny interconnected parts that pass physical impulses and data signals back and forth in a constant state of transformation.

The installation was commissioned by HIP Developments in partnership with the City of Cambridge to help inspire and transform the community.

Looking up into the central hemispherical shell cluster, Meander, Cambridge, Canada, 2020 Courtesy of Philip Beesley Studio Inc./Living Architecture Systems Group

“The Grand River reminds us of how we built the region’s industry and prosperity, but it can also teach us how to prosper in the future,” said Scott Higgins, President of HIP Developments. “Sustainability is found in thinking and working in systems, where boundaries are soft and flowing. That is nature’s way. Meander is a work of art, but it is also a collaborative web of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). This sculpture, and our river, can be seen as a metaphor for nature’s networks and how to think, design and problem solve in today’s complex, turbulent and interconnected world.”

Meander will serve as a teaching tool through ongoing research about human interaction with responsive environments and a STEAM school curriculum for the next generation of Waterloo Region’s creators. “It is emblematic of the creative dynamism and the technological and artistic leadership and potential of the community,” said Higgins.

Meander will also play a central role in a new work that Philip Beesley will present at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale on May 22, 2021.

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