Philip Beesley and the Living Architecture Systems Group opens at Venice Architecture Biennale

Grove, by Philip Beesley and the Living Architecture Systems Group, has opened as part of “How Will We Live Together?” – the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Hashim Sarkis.

Panoramic view of Grove

COVID-19 called for a complete re-imagining of the original Grove concept, which was initially conceived as a robustly physical, densely interactive environment Beesley looked to ways of creating expanded and enhanced physical and virtual experiences by working with collaborators in sound and film.

The result is a new type of multimedia installation that re-interprets the interwoven layers and constantly transforming, near-to-life qualities of Beesley’s immersive architectural visions. It is also a direct response to the urgent question posed by the title of Hashim Sarkis’s exhibition.

Grove View with screen

Grove is a delicate gathering space that offers a vision for inclusive, open building. A soaring, undulating canopy of luminous, lace-like clouds embedded with liquid-filled glass vessels hovers above a central pool-shaped screen, into which a film, called Grove Cradle, by London-based Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones is projected.

The projection pool is surrounded by a forest of totemic, basket-like columns with embedded custom speakers that carry a multi-channel spatial sound environment by composer Salvador Breed and 4DSOUND of Amsterdam.

Inspired by the form language of Beesley’s “living architecture” environments, the film’s intricate geometries move from inert crystalline minerals into surging life forms. Within an astral, dream-like vision of constant metamorphosis, a child-like being emerges, reflecting the fundamental journey from death into new life. Rising and falling in cycles, deeply fragmented wilderness is interwoven with shimmering, hopeful light. Whispering voices emerge from cavernous depths, creating an emotional passage from suffering through new life and innocent wonder

Grove showing cloud and speakers

Beesley and his collaborators offer a vision of a transformed world where future architecture seeks communion with plants, animals, and inert matter alike: “Free citizenship was long defined by protective city walls, yet those same walls have also fueled catastrophic changes that befall us now. Instead of the rigid, bounded, and closed territories that divide us, can we live in open, constantly exchanging, shared worlds? Can a new architecture based on dissipative natural forms, such as fragile snowflakes and shifting clouds, create buildings that that are both unapologetically sensitive and extraordinarily coherent, self-renewing, strong, and resilient?”

Grove is open to the public at the Arsenale – one of the main exhibition venues from May 22 to November 21, 2021.