Coming from the Greek word “astro” meaning star, and “kytos” meaning cell, Astrocyte is a floating sculpture of 300,000 components made of thermally-formed acrylic, mylar fronds, electronic sensors, 3D printed lights, inorganic chemicals and custom glasswork. The sculptural work merges chemistry, artificial intelligence and immersive soundscapes into a visually stunning interactive environment.
Astrocyte is one response to the central research question at the Living Architecture Systems group: Can architecture truly be “alive” and open the possibility for deeply responsive, self-repairing organic environments? Resembling a resilient central nervous system, the sculpture’s synesthetic system can support varying forces and shifting motions to respond to viewers’ movements with patterns of light, vibration and multichannel sound. This complex system is enveloped by the multichannel soundscape created in collaboration with Netherlands-based 4DSOUND. Multiple iterations of these installation test-beds aim to demonstrate how to create environments that can feel and think with us, empathically, with the goal of enriching our interactions not only with each other but with the spaces we inhabit.
These intermeshed astrocytes are resilient, capable of supporting varying forces and shifting motions. together, the piece responds to viewers’ movements with patterns of light, vibration and multichannel sound. Philip Beesley’s team created the auditory experience in collaboration with sound artists, 4Dsound.
Within the glass, artificial chemistry reminds viewers of the sparks of life. with further development, this first iteration experiment, this strangely beautiful combination of oil and chemicals and glass, may lead to new kinds of self-renewing skins for future buildings. EDIT’s feature, astrocyte, is a direct product of the experimental, interdisciplinary culture of the University of Waterloo. it was made possible by the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Arts Council.
Philip Beesley / Joey Jacobson / Anca Badut / Gabriella Bevilacqua / Siddhant Chandgadkar / Charlotte Dyck / Adam Francey / Mark Francis / Maxime Gordon /Maite Iribarren / Nicole Jazwiec / Kevin Lam / Daiwei Lin / Jordan Prosser / Iris Redinger / Penny Unni / Guyi Yi / Alex Willms
Research and Support
Lorena Almaraz, Carolina Garcia, Rob Gorbet, Dana Kulić, Anne Paxton, Matthew Spremulli,
Salvador Breed, Poul Holleman, Paul Oomen
Fabrication and Installation
Mayyasah Akour / Natalia Bakaeva / Rudy Benson / Madeline Brimble / Annie Burnett /Caitlin Chin / Filipe Costa / Isabel Delaney / Aleena Derohanian / Lanxi Dong / Jo Fan / Kelley Gu / Manik Perera Gunatilleka / Yujia Guo / Ahlam Hassan / Alifiyah Hussain / Akash Inbakumar / Dani Kastelein / Jeff Kwok / Bianca Martin / Shevaun Mistry / Ahlam Mohammed / Mollify Moyo / Richard Mui / Cassandra Murphy / Anitha Nathan / Doyeon Park / Dylan Pereira / Iris Phung / Arvin Relleve / Sharlene Santos / Bhavika Sharma / Charlie Sills / Jacqueline Vo / Justin Weir / Jenn Wingfeild / Soo Jung Woo / Melih Yazici / Zhino Yousefi / Maryam Zaraimajin
Toronto Design Exchange, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Government of Canada, Ontario Arts Council, University of Waterloo, Formlabs, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto