Karen Zwart Hielema

Karen works on select PBSI/LASG interactive environments and exhibits. She is the lead client liaison, works with the studio team on overall creative direction and design progress, project management, and coordination of artwork and building systems. She leads creative extensions of the artwork including content development and design of interpretive exhibitry, educational programming and curriculum materials.

Her work with the PBSI/LASG provides unique opportunities to collaborate across disciplines, furthering her work in integrated arts and exhibitions and bringing fresh perspective and insights to her practice around innovative collaboration, design thinking, conveying information, and achieving vibrant and purposeful public space that starts with the user experience.

Karen is an architect with over 17 years in the industry working across a variety of both public and private sectors including Arts & Exhibition, Transit, Healthcare, Airports & Aviation, Commercial/Retail, Corporate/Office, Education, and Warehouse/Light Industrial. She currently works with ZWARTstudio & DEXD.

Ellie Hayden

Ellie Hayden is the Operations Director at the LASG, steering and overseeing grant applications, project leads, LASG partner and studentship relations, and administrative affairs. Before joining the LASG team, Ellie worked for three of Toronto’s Business Improvement Areas where she liaised with local business owners and city officials to orchestrate a series of community-based public art and streetscaping projects. Ellie’s academic background is in Civil Engineering and Sustainable Development, though her passion lies in community engagement with public space. She holds a BASc in Integrated Social Science and Engineering from Lehigh University, and hopes to pursue a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture in the future.

Stephen Ru

Stephen Ru is a Design Lead at the LASG, overseeing the staffing of large-scale sculptures and website projects. Stephen has led team members in the design of Meander in Cambridge, Threshold in San Jose, and a series of custom fabricated, parametrically-designed sculptures for a large luxury fashion brand. Stephen is interested in automation and creating technologies related to building construction and responsive architecture. He holds a BAS from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Timothy Boll

As Design Director at the LASG, Timothy Boll has led teams in the design of Meander at Tapestry Hall, Cambridge, Amatria at Indiana University, and Nebula Prototype: Liminal Space for the travelling exhibition The Beauty Project. He has led workshops at the Delft University of Technology and the University of Manitoba, and his design work for Iris van Herpen collaborations has been featured in collections such as Sensory Seas. He has also been involved in speaker and sound design projects in collaboration with 4DSOUND. Timothy’s interests and expertise lie in computational design and interdisciplinary synthesis, especially in the crossover between engineering and design within the studio. Timothy holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Michael Lancaster

Michael Lancaster leads the design, production, and installation of electronic and software systems in PBSI’s actuated sculptures. Michael is also responsible for directing research and development of hardware and software systems. Current development projects include compact embedded electronics for use within kits, and a modular software system supporting behaviour composition and simulation. He has worked on mechanical and electrical redesign for actuated components of large test-bed scaffolds including Meander, Amatria, and Futurium Noosphere. Michael holds a BASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Sascha Hastings

Sascha Hastings is responsible for curation and promotion related to the group and its work. Sascha maintains a long association with the LASG that includes work for the 2021 Venice Biennale, 2010 Venice Biennale, and a number of testbeds and exhibitions since 2018. She has worked previously as a national arts producer for CBC Radio, an architecture and design curator, and on several Canada Pavilion exhibitions at the Venice Architecture Biennale, including as RAIC Project Manager and Deputy Commissioner.

Hastings has a BA in Renaissance Studies and German Literature from the University of Toronto and an MA in German Literature from the University of Freiburg (Germany). In 2018, she completed a Masters Diploma in Business for Arts and Culture at IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) in Venice, Italy.

Rachel Armstrong

Rachel Armstrong is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University. She is also a 2010 Senior TED Fellow who is establishing an alternative approach to sustainability that couples with the computational properties of the natural world to develop a 21st century production platform for the built environment, which she calls ‘living’ architecture. Rachel has been frequently recognized as being a pioneer. She has recently been featured in interview for PORTER magazine, added to the 2014 Citizens of the Next Century List, by Future-ish, listed on the Wired 2014 Smart List.

She is one of the 2013 ICON 50 and described as one of the ten people in the UK that may shape the UK’s recovery by Director Magazine in 2012. In the same year she was nominated as one of the most inspiring top nine women by Chick Chip magazine and featured by BBC Focus Magazine’s in 2011 in ‘ideas that could change the world’. Rachel Armstrong leads Metabolism research in developing artificial biology systems showing qualities of near-living systems. Her research into protocells is a pioneering effort that contributed to the previous collaboration with Philip Beesley.

Colin Ellard

Colin Ellard is a cognitive neuroscientist, author and design consultant, who works at the intersection of psychology and architectural and urban design. As a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, his research interests include how the organization and appearance of natural and built spaces affects movement, wayfinding, emotion and physiology. Ellard employs a mix of methodologies in his research, including both field-based approaches to psychogeographic experimentation using mobile physiological sensors and laboratory based approaches using immersive virtual reality.

He has a strong record of collaborative research and exhibition with museums, including the Guggenheim Museum (NY), the Museum of Vancouver, The Urbanspace Gallery in Toronto, and PioneerWorks in Brooklyn. He is the founder and Director of the Urban Realities Laboratory, where he leads cutting edge collaborative research efforts into the study of human behaviour in immersive virtual environments. Ellard leads research efforts in physiological, psychological studies of occupants in interactive environments.

Rob Gorbet

Rob Gorbet leads the Interdisciplinary Methods stream within the LASG. He contributes to the creation of Living Architecture Systems environments and leads the LASG’s STEAM education program. With LASG partners, the Toolbox Dialog Initiative, he is involved in the development of a Handbook of Living Architecture and the curriculum for Living Architecture 101.

Rob is a key member of Gorbet Design, a design firm and consultancy specializing in public interactive artwork and experiences, and also collaborates with other designers, artists, and architects including within the LASG. Gorbet’s LASG collaborations have been exhibited across the world and have won several awards, including the international FEIDAD and VIDA 11.0 first prize, and being selected to represent Canada at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. His work has been featured in major print and online media, and on the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet.

Rob’s teaching includes courses on microcontrollers, control systems, museum exhibit design, and technology art. Formally trained as an electrical engineer, Rob is an interdisciplinarian, a mechatronics specialist, an award-winning teacher and a technology artist. He loves words, art, design, teaching, travel, squash, and his friends and family.

Philip Beesley

Philip Beesley is a practicing visual artist, architect, and Professor in Architecture at the University of Waterloo and Professor of Digital Design and Architecture & Urbanism at the European Graduate School. Beesley’s work is widely cited in contemporary art and architecture, focused in the rapidly expanding technology and culture of responsive and interactive systems.

He serves as the Director for the Living Architecture Systems Group, and as Director for Riverside Architectural Press. His Toronto-based practice, Philip Beesley Studio Inc., works in numerous collaborations including longstanding exchanges with Iris van Herpen, Salvador Breed, Rob Gorbet, and Matt Gorbet. 

Philip Beesley leads the LASG Partnership and the Scaffolds research stream. As the leader of numerous collaborative projects, Beesley has senior level experience managing large, complex multidisciplinary teams and large-scale public architecture. Work resulting from the previous SSHRC partnership were presented in several public venues including the 2012 Biennale of Sydney. As a Professor at the University of Waterloo, School of Architecture he has mentored +1500 architecture students. He has authored and edited 19 books and has been the chair for numerous symposia and conferences.