In an age when companies of all types are seeking diverse and creative ways to achieve their goals, the traditional model of architectural practice appears to be increasingly old-fashioned. Last year, one of the most dramatic changes in the make-up of architectural practice was the foundation of product design firm BIG Ideas, an off-shoot of Bjarke Ingels Group, which is tasked with solving problems that are usually outside the scope of an architect's work. In this interview, originally published by Archipreneur in their "Archipreneur Insights" series as "Making BIG Ideas Happen Through Design With Jakob Lange," the head of BIG Ideas speaks to Tobias Maescher about the foundation of this entrepreneurial company and the value of keeping such close connections between a product design company and its parent architecture firm.
Today’s interview is with Jakob Lange, Partner at BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and Head of the BIG Ideas project unit, which was established in 2014. With this unit, BIG is broadening the scope of their architectural practice to a wider field. Combining technology and product design, this remarkable incubator creates prototypes, products and new materials within the building industry.
The Friday Smart Lock, an electronic door lock that pairs with a user’s mobile device, is one great example of an innovative product the team at BIG have helped to produce. They have also utilized creative methods for financing their projects, including a recent Kickstarter campaign for the prototype of a steam ring generator at a BIG-designed power plant in Copenhagen.
We think it is fascinating that one of the world’s most innovative and successful architectural offices is moving into other fields of practice—a very archipreneurial move! However, this is just one of many ways that architects can apply their skillsets to future business innovations. Here are Jakob’s thoughts on architecture, design and product development.
Reports indicate BIG will design the Washington Redskins new stadium. Details have yet to be released, however according to Sports Business Daily the practice's head of communications, Daria Pahhota confirmed BIG is working on an NFL stadium. The Redskins currently play at the 80,000-seat FedEx Field in Maryland; it is said that they are considering moving back to Washington DC or relocating to Virginia.
This past February, BIG and Heatherwick Studiounveiled their designs for Google’s new Mountain View Headquarters in California. The project, which will be built by robots, faced sizeable critique, as well as site complications—that have since been resolved—over the past year. Now, as a part of Esquire’s 2015 Breakouts, Bjarke Ingels—founder of BIG—is speaking out about how the firm won the Google bid, and why the headquarters could create a new mold for Silicon Valley urbanism. Ingels goes on to discuss other major BIG projects, like 2 World Trade Center, and an upcoming NFL stadium. Read the full Esquire interview, here.
One of BIG's most high-profile projects under construction, the Amager Bakke waste-to-power plant in Copenhagen, will have quite the party trick up its sleeve. In order to give locals a new understanding of the issue of global warming, for every tonne of CO2 generated by the burning of waste, the plant will emit a super-sized ring of steam into the sky from the chimney perched at the top of its sloping roof. However, when construction on the project started, BIG hit a road block: as Bjarke Ingels explained to FastCo Design, "there were no smoke ring-emitting manufacturers in the yellow pages."
New York Yimby has unveiled BIG's latest New York skyscraper: 76 11th Avenue. Planned for one of the largest plots along the High Line, the nearly 800,000-square-foot proposed project is comprised of two towers perched on a podium of retail, gallery and hotel space in the city's Meatpacking district. Rising 302-feet to the east and 402-feet to the west, the towers are divided by a "diagonal cut" through the site that opens up more views for residents to the High Line.
In recent years, the ever-increasing profile of Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG have been hard to miss. For an office that is barely 10 years old, the number and scope of their projects is astonishing; to cope with demand, the firm has grown to employ almost 300 people. This growth, though, did not happen by accident. In this article, originally published on DesignIntelligence as "The Secret to BIG Success," Bob Fisher speaks to the firm's CEO and Partner Sheela Maini Søgaard in order to uncover the business plan behind the BIG phenomenon.
BIG may be the most appropriately named firm on the planet.
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) seems to have an outsized impact in all it does. The Copenhagen-based design firm turns conventions and assumptions upside down and combines contrasting possibilities in outrageously bold, imaginative and playful ways. Projects like Via at West 57th Street in New York City and the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen are prime examples: the first a pyramid-shaped apartment building that defies the forest of rectangular towers around it, and the second a power plant that doubles as a smoke ring-blowing ski slope.
The world has taken note. Whether in praise or criticism, the architectural, cultural and business media tend to strike a heroic tone when describing the firm’s work: radical, ambitious, bold, confident. In short…BIG.
Florida 3.0: Reinventing our Future presents new urban possibilities in response to climate change framed through the perspective of five priorities: Infrastructure, Mobility, Hydro-Ecosystems, The Resilient City, and The New Economy.Florida 3.0 proposes an integrated approach to these priorities and challenges inaction by visualizing the ways we could thrive in a watery future. The exhibition brings together the research conducted through the Consortium for Hydro-generated Urbanism (CHU) at the University of Florida that is focused on the history and future of Florida’s water based settlements and hydro-environments within the broader context of new paradigms for the evolution of cities on water from around the world.
“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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?"