Grove opens at the Venice Biennale of Architecture

image of Grove installation

Grove by Philip Beesley and the Living Architecture Systems Group will be open to the public at the Venice Biennale of Architecture from May 22 to November 21, 2021. Grove is a delicate and beautiful 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.

Grove's designs and digital models were launched within Meander, the Living Architecture Systems Group's large test-bed environment that covers the lobby and part of the main event space in Tapestry Hall in Cambridge. Over a hundred researchers and creators worked on Grove and the related film Grove Cradle, combining engineering and practical sciences, digital media arts and filmmaking, sound, light and performance. In Waterloo, a core group from the Engineering and Environment faculties included Philip Beesley (Architecture) and Rob Gorbet (Knowledge Integration), current Architecture students Kailey Moulson and Julia Richard, recent graduates Stephen Ru and many others. Grove integrates thesis material from Tahir Pervaiz, Richard Mui, Soo Woo and Bianca Weeko Martin.

Grove can be seen in person at the Arsenale, the massive ship-building hall that forms one of the main exhibition venues of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition. But in response to the challenges of designing and installing a sculpture during the pandemic, Grove was also conceived with deep online content where virtual CGI-based world could be explored and shared using and laptop or mobile phone. This is complemented by audiophile-quality custom speaker systems. The working methods that have now been integrated can strengthen future LASG work moving forward.