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Is There a European Identity in Architecture?

“There is a certain tradition, history, and continuity that you can read in European architecture”
- Spela Videcnik, OFIS arhitekti

A product of context and history, Europe has influenced the architecture world in a way that perhaps no other continent has. The continent is the topic of the latest video from the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, produced in relation to their European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, in which prize-nominated architects from 16 European cities are interviewed on what they believe brings them together, and what makes them different.

As a US citizen who has previously lived in Europe for two years, I was struck by the essential question prompted by the video: “Is there a European identity in architecture?” And if so, what exactly is it? To try to answer this question, I sat down with ArchDaily’s managing editor Rory Stott - a Brit - to debate differing perspectives.

2015 Prize Winner - Philharmonic Hall Szczecin / Barozzi / Veiga. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Gym Hall TNW / NL Architects. Image © Luuk Kramer Metropol Parasol / J. Mayer H + Arup. Image © Javier Orive 2013 Prize Winner - Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects & Batteriid Architects. Image Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

Arquitectonica Wins Competition to Design Mixed Use Complex in Luxembourg

The government of Luxembourg has announced that Miami-based firm Arquitectonica has won the competition to design a major mixed-use project in Luxembourg City. Set in the new district of Kirchberg in Luxembourg, the 40,000 square meter complex design by Arquitectonica won the bid over notable names in architecture like Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Massimiliano Fuksas, and Neutelings Riedijk Architects.

ArchDaily Readers on the Role of Crowdfunding in Architecture

Over time, people have found many different ways to fund the construction of a building. Museums for example have long benefited from the support of deep-pocketed patrons, with The Broad Museum, a permanent public home for the renowned contemporary art collection of philanthropists Edythe and Eli Broad, being the newest example in a long history of such practices. However in our ever-more-connected world - and against a backdrop of reduced government support for creative endeavors - the onus of funding seems to be shifting once again, away from the individual and towards the crowd.

As crowdfunding makes strides in all realms of innovative enterprise, including architecture, we wanted to hear from our readers about what they thought of this new opportunity for a publicly held stake in what has historically been the realm of singular, well-heeled organizations in the form of the state or private capital. Writing about the history and current trajectories of public funding, alongside a more pointed discussion of BIG’s Kickstarter for “the world’s first steam ring generator,” we posed the question: does public funding have a place in architecture, and if so, is there a line that should be drawn?

Read on for some of the best replies.

Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (born 2 October 1974) is often cited as one of the most inspirational architects of our time. At an age when many architects are just beginning to establish themselves in professional practice, Ingels has already won numerous competitions and achieved a level of critical acclaim (and fame) that is rare for new names in the industry. His work embodies a rare optimism that is simultaneously playful, practical, and immediately accessible.

See BIG’s W57 Approach Completion in this Stunning Aerial Video

BIG’s first foray into North America, the West 57th Street (W57) Building in New York is approaching completion. After initial releases of renderings, and photographs taken two months after topping out, a new video has surfaced, exhibiting the gradual realization of the firm’s vision. This 32-story tower with 709 apartment units combines a courtyard block and a skyscraper, affectionately dubbed a “courtscraper” by its designer. Reacting to an unorthodox, thin plot of land, the building generates its geometry from a combination of providing natural light, views to the Hudson River and maximizing living space for residents. From one angle, its almost pyramidal structure is clear, and from another, it appears to be glass spire. See the most recent developments in this new video.

Bjarke Ingels Talks Tech, Entrepreneurship and Modernism in this Podcast with Prehype

Prehype, a venture development firm, has released its latest in a series of podcasts by partner Henrik Werdelin, featuring Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. Having worked with Prehype on investments into tech development, Bjarke Ingels discusses his experiences and perspectives on the industry, drawing parallels between entrepreneurship, tech development and architecture.

FC Barcelona Announces Finalists for Camp Nou and Palau Blaugrana Remodel

FC Barcelona has announced 14 teams in the running for two planned overhauls of their facilities at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, including alterations to their main stadium and the rebuilding of the Palau Blaugrana, the nearby arena owned by the club and used primarily for basketball and handball. The alterations to the two buildings are part of a larger €600 million project, known officially as "Nou Espai Barça," which seeks to improve the club's entire campus, also adding an ice skating rink, new offices, 5,000 parking spaces and improving the outdoor space surrounding the facilities. The Nou Espai Barça project was approved by the club's fanbase last April after a 72% vote in favor of the proposal.

The list names eight teams - including BIG, Populous, HKS and Arup Sport - in the running for the overhaul of the stadium itself, which will involve the addition of almost 6,000 seats to bring the stadium's total capacity to 105,000, increasing the stadium's lead as the largest football stadium in Europe. It will also include a complete redesign of the lowest seating tier to offer improved views, and the addition of a roof over the terraces. Also named are the six teams in the running to rebuild the Palau Blaugrana.

The BIG Steam-Ring Kickstarter: Is There a Limit to What Should Be Crowdfunded?

Update: The Kickstarter campaign launched by BIG to fund the development of their steam ring generator reached its goal of $15,000 in less than a week after it was launched. As of today (24th August) the campaign total stands just short of $25,000, with 19 days still to go.

BIG has launched a Kickstarter campaign, aiming to fund the ongoing research and prototyping of the "steam ring generator" designed to crown the firm's Waste-to-Energy power plant in Copenhagen. The campaign was announced on Friday and picked up a lot of steam (pun intended) in the design press - but at ArchDaily we were hesitant to publish news of the campaign because, in short, it led us into a minefield of questions about the role of invention, public engagement, and money in architecture.

Of course, BIG are far from the first to attempt to crowdfund an architectural project. Previous projects however have generally focused on otherwise-unfundable proposals for the public good, barely-sane moonshots or complex investment structures which depending on your viewpoint may or may not even count as crowdfunding. BIG are perhaps the first example of an established architectural firm attempting to crowdfund the design of a project that is already half-built, causing some people - ArchDaily staff included - to ask: "Why wasn't this money included in the project's budget?"

How Bjarke Ingels is Reshaping New York City's Architecture

Bjarke Ingels has become know for his “promiscuous hybrids" that are reshaping skylines worldwide. Now, after news of BIG's redesign of the 2 World Trade Center, Ingels is being credited for single-handedly transforming New York City's architecture. At the New York Times' Cities of Tomorrow conference last week, architecture critic Michael Kimmelman sat down with the 40-year-old Danish architect to discuss just how BIG is changing New York

BIG, Jean Nouvel, and 5 Others Reinterpret Arne Jacobsen's Series 7 Chair

Sixty years ago Arne Jacobsen designed the Series 7 chair - the "Sevener." Unlike many other Jacobsen designs, the chair was not designed for a specific use, leaving it to interpretation. In light of the chair's 60th anniversary, Fritz Hansen commissioned "seven cool architects" - BIG, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Snøhetta and three others - to recreate the chair. The results, after the break. 

Zaha Hadid Design. Image via Jun Igarashi Architects. Image via Neri&Hu Design & Research Office. Image via Jean Nouvel Design. Image via

Bjarke Ingels: "Denmark Has Become an Entire Country Made Out of LEGO®"

"In a matter of speaking, Denmark has become an entire country made out of LEGO®," says Bjarke Ingels. Speaking of the importance of prefab in Denmark and how LEGO® inspired his first BIG project - the "LEGO® Towers," which ultimately landed him a commission to design the LEGO® House - Bjarke Ingels discusses his favorite childhood toy and how it has helped him become a better architect.

The clip is part of the documentary, A LEGO Brickumentary which will hit theaters July 31. 

BIG Office Building to Break Ground at Philadelphia's Navy Yard

Construction is slated to begin next week on a $35 million office building designed by BIG at Philadelphia's Navy Yard. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Liberty Property Trust will break ground Tuesday on the 94,000-square-foot office building at a site adjacent to a five-acre park designed by James Corner Field Operations. The project will be Liberty's fourteenth development at Navy Yards - a 1200-acre office park sited on a World War II Navy shipyard. 

Bjarke Ingels Talks About Two World Trade Center

Last week, after a month of speculation, BIG unveiled their plans for New York's Two World Trade Center, replacing Foster + Partners' design which although started on site, was stalled due to the financial crash of 2008. With the building's high profile, in just one week BIG's design has been the subject of intense scrutiny. In this interview, originally published by New York YIMBY as "Interview: Bjarke Ingels On New Design For 200 Greenwich Street, Aka Two World Trade Center," Nikolai Fedak talks to Bjarke Ingels about the design of the tower and why it was necessary to replace the scheme by Foster + Partners.

YIMBY sat down with Bjarke Ingels to talk about his firm’s design for 200 Greenwich Street, aka Two World Trade Center. Despite public outcry following the change from the Norman Foster version of the tower, BIG’s innovative and forward-thinking building will truly respond to the human needs of its tenants, while also punctuating the Downtown skyline with a 1,340-foot take on a classic ziggurat. We’ve also obtained a few additional renderings of the soon-to-be icon’s impact on the cityscape.

One of the design's rooftop gardens. Image © DBOX, Courtesy of BIG Lobby. Image © DBOX, Courtesy of BIG © DBOX, Courtesy of BIG © DBOX, Courtesy of BIG

New Site Revealed for BIG and Heatherwick-Designed Google HQ Expansion

Google has found another way to realize its futuristic Mountain View headquarter's expansion. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, the search engine giant revealed plans to utilize a vacant site just east of their existing Googleplex that was approved by the city almost a decade ago to host nearly 600,000 square-feet of office and commercial space. The approval occurred prior to the city implementing strict legislation that restricts office expansions in the North Bayshore district, therefore Google's entitlement is essentially "grandfathered in."

Olafur Eliasson To Bring LEGO Installation "The Collectivity Project" To The High Line

As part of their series of "Panorama" exhibits being presented this year, Friends Of The High Line have announced that they will host Olafur Eliasson's installation, "The Collectivity Project" from May 29th until September 30th this year on the High Line at West 30th Street. The installation, which has previously traveled to Tirana, Oslo, and Copenhagen, features an interactive imaginary cityscape made of over two tons of white LEGO bricks, with visitors invited to design, build and rebuild new structures as they see fit.

In a twist to the installation's usual presentation, High Line Art has invited high-profile architects who are working in the vicinity of the High Line to contribute one "visionary" LEGO design for the installation's opening, with BIG, David M. Schwarz Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, James Corner Field Operations, OMA New York, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Selldorf Architects, SHoP, and Steven Holl Architects all contributing one building which the public will then be able to adapt, extend or work around.

BIG and Heatherwick Trudge On with Googleplex Plans

"Google now has to convince its hometown that its intentions are non-evil," commented Bloomberg Businessweek's Brad Stone on "Building Planet Google." Referring to the City of Mountain View's decision to award land to LinkedIn over Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick's proposed Googleplex in fear of becoming a "one-corporation town," Stone details the backstory of the futuristic plans and how the architects haven't given up yet. "Neither us or Heatherwick are in the business of producing a pretty painting,” Ingels said to Stone. Read the complete story here.  

BIG and Heatherwick's Futuristic Google HQ Proposal Loses to LinkedIn

Google's ambitious plans to expand its California headquarters in Mountain View took a major blow last night when council members announced their decision to award LinkedIn three-quarters of the North Bayshore area site. With just 500,000 square-feet of area to work with, Google would only be able to construct one of its four proposed buildings.

Unveiled earlier this year, the company's futuristic "Googleplex," designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio, gained international attention for its outlandish plans to build four Lego-like buildings beneath a cluster of translucent canopies.

As The New York Times reports, LinkedIn won the council over by promising to "preserve business diversity."

BIG and Heatherwick's Google HQ to be Built with Robots

Google's proposed California headquarters will be built with robots, according to the most recent planning documents received by the City of Mountain View Council. As the Architects' Journal reported first, the documents detail BIG and Heatherwick Studio's plan to construct the canopy-like structure's interiors with a team of robotic-crane hybrids known as "crabots."

These crabots would, in theory, establish a "'hackable' system for the building of the interior structures," says the documents, that would allow for limitless, easy, and affordable reconfiguration of space throughout the building's life.