TEDx: Hedonistic Sustainability / Bjarke Ingels

In this video Bjarke Ingels shares his enlightened view on Hedonistic sustainability, challenging the misconception that one must give up a portion of their comfortable lifestyle in order to live sustainability. Ingels counteracts that delusion with examples that illustrate the possibilities of sustainable buildings and cities increasing life quality. He encourages architects to embrace their expanded roles of becoming “designers of ecosystems” by creating a world where our presence is not seen as detrimental to our environment through the integration of our “consumption patterns and leftovers” into our natural world. Ingels is optimistic as he shares Hollywood’s copy of BIG’s Denmark Pavilion for the Shanghai 2010 Expo in Iron Man 2. Ingels states, “If Hollywood starts ripping off sustainable architecture to portray science fiction it could be a sign we are moving towards Hedonistic sustainability.”

Reference: TEDxEast

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "TEDx: Hedonistic Sustainability / Bjarke Ingels" 28 Jan 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=203599>
  • dave

    There’s a big problem with the argument that people don’t have to give up some of their standard of living in order to live sustainably. It depends on which people you’re talking about. Unfortunately it doesn’t really apply to the decision makers and developers who build buildings and determine what cities will look like. Their standard of living is already absurdly high and it’s subsidized by wasteful polluting energy sources, the wars we fight over them, the industries that subsidize those sectors, the exploitation of workers, the exploitation and ruination of land and climate and the disaster capitalism that profits from it, the list goes on and on, etc.

    To live sustainably we’ll need to upend certain energy/political power structures (oil/weapons manufacturers/conservatives – for example) that are very wealthy and who’s leaders live incredibly lavish and therefore wasteful lifestyles.

    While it’s true that average people’s lifestyles would probably be overall better (more healthy and enjoyable) if sustainability were more common, the rich people who build buildings and who run our planet would have to sacrifice a fair amount of their luxurious lifestyles (including ridiculous things they even take for granted at this point like 4th homes) in order to pay for these better buildings and better cities for the rest of us.

    That’s the underlying problem. Optimism isn’t enough to change the bottom line on why things aren’t changing despite the market necessity for them to change. The people who’ve got their thumbs on the scale aren’t going to let up. They’ve made that patently obvious in conservative politics recently.

    Maybe in Denmark the wealthy are willing to be better humanitarians, and that’s great, and it’s probably why they have the happiest people on the planet according to the yearly ranking. But in America, China, Germany, etc… the wealthy aren’t willing to give up anything. They only want more. And they want it by forcing average people to make more sacrifices, not fewer.

    We’re certainly not seeing any hint that our wealthy are seriously interested in making the lives of average people better via green buildings, cities, working conditions, etc. Why? Because it’d mean their absurdly cheap profit driven developments would have to cost more. Their investors won’t accept smaller dividends.

    Some of our more liberal leaders are always advocating for a better life for the 99%, but they’re overwhelmed by the number of wealthy people in America who are just callous and corrupt and wasteful, and became rich precisely because they were callous and corrupt and wasteful.

    • alf.hopkins

      bjarke is incredibly naive and i am sorry that he continues to be given a platform to spout a philosophy that is clearly uninformed about the realities of the carrying capacity of the planet. 7 to 10 billion people cannot live on the earth in the manner that people in “first world” countries currently do.

      • K

        Come on, guys. He just proposed a different way of thinking for a problem we haven’t found the answer. In fact, I think Bjarke got this point that we should design the environment not just simply add the cool features or gadgets of sustainability in the buildings. So if you got any better idea, please speak instead of criticizing people who try to make the difference.

  • http://www.shindesignworks.com sdw

    Entertaining….. witty even.
    However, this kind of architectural gestures of ‘Social Programming’? of Koohass, MVRDVs like usually propose very violent scheme interms of architectural quality despite of thier rather naive intentions.

    To put it simply, they usually have only ‘Ideas’. The rest is for their ‘Consultants’(structure etc….)
    Architecture is more than just implementing raw ideas to the physical world I honestly believe…..

  • Martin Hedin

    Is it just me, or did he in fact not explain how to not give up a portion of our comfortable lifestyle? To me he just said that we must not, then just presented his projects. The projects are good projects, but they do not address, that for example: the Copenhagen-Malmö area do have the possibility to construct this type of infrastructure because of economical strength of the region. The same does not apply to other, not as rich parts in the world. His proposals are only possible in a economically unbalanced world. Sweden / Denmark are vitally dependent of other countries doing their dirty work for them, for example production of goods on terms Scandinavians themselves would never accept.

  • H-J

    Kudos for his t-shirt.

  • mvb

    …Moving a sculpture from Denmark to China is a very sustainable idea…

    By the way, Bjarke has a bike, but also he owns a Porsche.

    Can you see the hypocrisy?

    • H-J

      You know what’s really sustainable? Suicide…

    • Anvil

      If you’ve watched other lectures or read his book (Yes is More.) You’ll understand that ships that go from Europe to China are usually empty or filled with water (so the ship has enough weight). So the sculpture (and water) were moved by a ship that would go to China anyway, and he was just taking advantage of that. So in a way you could say that it’s sustainable, because the transport of the sculpture doesn’t add any extra pollution.

      • antonia

        Yes, of course! that is what he will say in his lectures! He is a super salesman, and could sell sand in Sahara. The facts surrounding the whole Expo-project are a lot different. The water did not go on an empty ship back to China!. The water used in the Danish pavilion was local Shanghai water. And while everybody cheered and praised Mr. Ingels for his wit and talent, an army of Chinese construction workers slaved on a 24 hour schedule to finish the white pavilion, in hyper-toxic conditions. Well planned, well thought, Well done! – so sustainable!

  • maria-elena

    Yes, I’ve heard that some people work for BIG for FREE, while the others – Asians are poorly paid. Hedonistic sustainability? Come on, Bjarke, give up a portion of YOUR comfortable lifestyle, go ahead :)

  • flytoget

    O well. Just another TED clown spredding his/her cluelessness to the “world”.

  • mariam

    If I had the Hubble telescope I couldn’t find my interest in anything this clown has to say.