Our friend Cliff Kuang, editor of Co.Design, sat down with Bjarke Ingels after his (second) arrival to NY. During the interview, Bjarke talks about his new teaching position at Harvard GSD, focused on the potential of the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup for Rio de Janeiro. They also talk about BIG’s National Library in Kazakhstan, and hint us on a new project currently in the boards for Manhattan, a “cross breed the perimeter block and the high rise, to allow a communal garden in the heart of a building”, a building that we really want to see more about.
CK: It seems like things might be a lot different here, than in your home country. What can New York teach a young architect like yourself?
BI: As an architect, you’re always trying to accommodate different interests in a single building, from the residents to the developers to the city planning officials. In Manhattan, the density makes that even more extreme, and there’s something in the American culture about bringing together competing interest groups. I mean, this is the country that invented surf & turf! I mean, steak and lobster! What other country would thing to combine those two extremes? I sense some interesting possibilities here.
CK: A lot of your buildings — such as the 8 House apartments and the Mountain Dwellings project, or the Astana National Library and the Danish pavilion look like evolutions of a theme. Is that part of BIG trying to develop an aesthetic, or a signature?
BI: No, we don’t have a commitment to certain forms or styles. But as we develop stuff we learn how things relate and connect, and we learn how those forms can be reinterpreted to create new possibilities. So for example, the basic form of the 8 House, which allowed both a courtyard and views and a sloping green roof, has become in TED which attempts to bring street life up to the level of the penthouse.
It’s a bit like in nature how some fish developed bigger flippers that could be used as legs. It’s not like the fins had a purpose for walking, but through an act of relocation and misinterpretations, they became legs. A major part of design evolution is that things developed for one purpose can be used in other ways. And that’s why you see diversity and continuity in design.