San Diego firms BASILE Studio and Jules Wilson Design Studio have revealed their collaborative design of the South lobby of Diega, a mixed-use high-rise in downtown San Diego. The flexible space was crafted to complement both its residential and retail tenants with a responsive design informed by nature.

“As the world adapted to life in a pandemic, we’ve also had to adjust our original plans for this lobby corner,” says Jules Wilson, founder of her eponymous studio. “We partnered with BASILE Studio to turn the available space into a one-of-a-kind, interactive art installation—an urban forest that also operates as a multifunctional area for residents to utilize for coworking, social gatherings, lounging, and more.”

A moving treetop installation fills the spacious lobby, which is populated with modular furniture in neutral tones and natural materials. Abstract calligraphic artwork by artist Austen Segal adorns a trio of 20-foot-tall concrete columns to inject a refreshing reinterpretation of the urban forest theme. The undulating trees are also engineered to respond to sound—subtly swaying and changing color akin to a living forest.

“The beating heart of our designs has always been interactive architecture,” adds BASILE Studio founder Paul Basile. “Employing our signature mechatronic methodology, a cross between mechanical engineering and electronics, allows us to create an immersive experience that will transport people to a different place. Diega was no exception.”

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