Research Collaboration Snapshot: First-of-its-kind collaboration brings philosophy to near-living architecture

Sunday, May 31, 2021


In the summer of 2014, University of Waterloo graduate student Ty Branch started a Mitacs Accelerate internship as a philosopher in residence at the architecture firm Philip Beesley Architect Inc. (PBAI). The project, a first-time partnership between Mitacs and the university’s Department of Philosophy, focused on how near-living architecture interacts with its environment.

Near-living architecture is an emerging style that incorporates biological features to make environments more responsive to occupants in that space. Ty’s research asked what it means to be living and what applications near-living architecture might have to theories of emergence. Even the terms used to define this architectural style are important because they speak to fundamental questions of what “living” means. During her internship, Ty also helped edit the publication of PBAI’s latest book.

Through Mitacs Accelerate, PBAI had access to a direct and personalized assessment of the philosophical themes of their work, as well as recommendations for how they convey its merits. As a result of her internship, the university’s Department of Philosophy is looking to create a practical Philosophy degree; they’re using Ty’s Mitacs experience as a framework to approach it. 

Mitacs is hosting the “Capitalizing on Research: from Idea to Impact” panel on June 1, 2015, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Through the examination of two successful social sciences and humanities (SS&H) research collaborations, this session will communicate the value of SS&H research and the sometimes unclear path of ideas from conception to application.

Mitacs is a non-profit organization that supports research collaborations between Canadian researchers in all disciplines, industry and not-for-profit partners, research organizations, and international researchers around the world.