BIG Designs Labyrinth for Atrium of National Building Museum

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The National Building Museum (NBM) has announced that BIG has designed a 61×61 foot maze to be housed in the building’s grand atrium from July 4th to September 1st of this year. According to the NBM’s website, the labyrinth’s Baltic birch plywood walls, which stand 18 feet high at the maze’s periphery, descend as you make your way towards the center. From the core, then, visitors receive a view of the entire layout – and a better understanding of how to get back out.

According to Bjarke Ingels, “The concept is simple: as you travel deeper into a maze, your path typically becomes more convoluted. What if we invert this scenario and create a maze that brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth?” Of course, those uninterested in the challenge of figuring out the maze can peek down on it from the Museum’s second and third floors – but where would be the fun in that?

More images, diagrams and drawings after the break!

North West Cambridge Extension Proposals Enter Planning Phase

Masterplan. Image Courtesy of North West

Earlier this year the University of Cambridge announced an ambitious new urban extension in the north west of the city in order to create a framework for a new district centered on a mixed academic and urban community. The development, planned by Aecom, has aspirations of achieving urban space that is well balanced, permanent and sustainable. Containing 1,500 homes for its key workers, accommodation for 2,000 postgraduate students, 1,500 homes for sale, 100,000 square metres of research facilities and a local centre with a primary school, community centre, health centre, supermarket, hotel and shops, proposals from Mecanoo and MUMA are now entering the planning phase. Future lots are expected to be filled by the likes of Stanton WilliamsAlison Brooks Architects and by Cottrell and Vermeulen working with Sarah Wigglesworth and AOC.

BIG, SHoP, Snøhetta Among Shortlist for Melbourne Office Complex

Pre-existing structures permitted for ‘part demolition and refurbishment’. Image Courtesy of Future Melbourn (Planning) Committee

Australian developer CBUS Property has invited four pairs of Australian and internationally-renowned architectural practices to compete to design an office complex at a 6,000 square meter site in downtown MelbourneAustralia where the National Mutual Plaza currently stands.

See the full shortlist after the break.

AD Interviews: Bjarke Ingels / BIG

At ArchDaily, we think that Bjarke Ingels is one of the most inspiring architects practicing today. Having found success at a relatively young age, Bjarke has never shied away from embracing his YES IS MORE philosophy. His conspicuous enthusiasm for the potential of architecture and design sets him apart from his peers. And it is precisely this go-to attitude that has allowed him to overcome some of the significant limits that face many young architects today. An impressive portfolio of both built and upcoming projects shows that his approach to design, though sometimes criticized, is profoundly impacting the social environment of architecture. 

On running an office, Bjarke says that “you have the opportunity and the responsibility to create the work environment that you would like to work in.” He has modeled his firm as a type of organism that is able to adapt to growth and change. In the interview, Bjarke explains that not only does his own role constantly evolve, but that the success of is contingent on the invaluable contributions of his partners. BIG is more than just Bjarke. 

We also asked him to define architecture (“the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings actually fit with the way we want to live our lives”), and to give students advice about pursuing a career in architecture. Be sure to read the full interview after the break.

BIG’s David Zahle Talks Sustainability

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David Zahle, a partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Lead Architect on the recently opened Danish National Maritime Museum, spoke to Mies. UK earlier this year. The practice, widely known for its creative approach to the issue of sustainability (sustainability should be experienced rather than hidden), recently won an an international competition to design a new Waste-to-Energy plant in Copenhagen.

Read more and watch the interview after the break…

The Prince: Bjarke Ingels’s Social Conspiracy

© DAC / Jakob Galtt

A version of this essay was originally published in Thresholds 40: “Socio-” (2012)

Few architects working today attract as much public acclaim and disciplinary head-scratching as Bjarke Ingels. Having recently arrived in New York, this self-proclaimed futurist is undertaking his own form of Manifest Destiny, reminding American architects how to act in their own country.

While his practice is often branded by the architectural establishment as naïve and opportunistic, such criticism is too quick to conflate Ingels’s outwardly optimistic persona with the brash formal agenda it enables. In the current economic climate, there are any number of gifted purveyors of form languishing in New York City. Despite this, Ingels has somehow managed to get away with proposing a pyramidal perimeter block in midtown New York, a looped pier in St. Petersburg Florida, and an art center in Park City, Utah massed as torqued log cabin while maintaining a straight face. Why, then, is his mode of operation considered unsophisticated by so many within the discipline?

Clearly, Ingels has figured something out about harnessing and transforming “the social” that American architects would do well to identify. So, in the manner of any good conspiracy theorist in search for the hidden method, let’s go to the chalkboard, or rather, the diagram…

A Crash Course on Modern Architecture (Part 2)

, New York, is a good example of what is to come. Image © Iwan Baan

Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup is associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This article originally appeared in GRASP.

Miss Part 1? Find it here.

Architecture is inseparable from planning, and the huge challenge for the current generation is the growth and shrinkage of cities. Some cities, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, are growing at exponential rates, while former global hubs in the northern are turning into countrysides. In the south, populations are still growing a lot, while populations are dwindling in Europe, Russia and North East Asia. The dream of the Bilbao effect was based on the hope that there might be a quick fix to both of these problems. Well, there is not.

A decade ago, few people even recognized this was a real issue and even today it is hardly ever mentioned in a political context. As a politician, you cannot say out loud that you have given up on a huge part of the electorate, or that it makes sense for the national economy to favor another part. Reclaiming the agricultural part of a nation is a political suicide issue whether you are in Europe or Latin America. And investing in urban development in a few, hand-picked areas while other areas are desolate is equally despised.

The one person, who is consistently thinking and writing about this problem, is Rem Koolhaas, a co-founder of OMA.

Smithsonian Hires BIG to Rethink Historic D.C. Campus

Smithsonian Institution © Karissa Rosenfield / ArchDaily

The Smithsonian Institution has commissioned the innovative practice of to reimagine the heart of its antiquated campus. The Danish architect has agreed to an eight- to 12- month, $2.4 million contract to draft the first phase of a master plan that seeks to dissolve the notable impediments and discontinuous pathways that plague the area.

More on this news after the break…

City Design Panel Endorses BIG’s Mixed-Use Vancouver Tower

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A BIG step forward for Vancouver’s latest mixed-use tower making international headlines, as the 497-foot tall Beach and Howe proposal has received an “enthusiastic endorsement” from the city’s design panel.

Commissioned by ’s real estate mogul Ian Gillespie of Westbank, the Bjarke Ingles Group-designed tower promises to add a foreign twist to Vancouver’s skyline and create a new identity for an undefined section of town at the fringe of the city’s residential area. The 700,000 square foot complex – which contains shopping, social housing and market rental apartments – was praised by the panel for anchoring itself on a nine-story podium that occupies the disused, interstitial spaces found between the Granville Street Bridge’s entry and exit ramps.

More after the break…

“My Playground: A Film about Movement in Urban Space” Documentary

A couple of years ago, we mentioned an interesting documentary about Parkour, and how such contemporary discipline is able to make reading the urban space in a different way.

The film was recorded mainly in Copenhagen, using locations such as the Mountain Dwellings designed by . It also includes some conversations with Bjarke Ingels, discussing about his understanding of urban space. It has been selected as part of the films program of the RIBA 2012. If you’re in London, you will have the chance to watch it next June 26th.

More info after the break

Shortlist announced for the North West Cambridge extension

Everyday life - Via Development Vision Document

In order to compete in an increasingly competitive global market and address long-term development needs, the University of Cambridge is undertaking an ambitious new urban extension in North West Cambridge. The master plan for the development, prepared by , lays out the framework for a new district centered on a mixed academic and urban community. With aspirations of achieving place that is well balanced, long-lasting and sustainable, the University is focused on creating a high quality of life for its residents that will enhance both the City and the University.

The University is now looking to appoint a number of architecture and landscape firms to design and deliver each proposed lot as part of the first phase of the extension. The shortlist consists of internationally renowned architects, including Bjarke Ingels Group and . Continue reading to learn more information on the extension and review the complete shortlist.

BIG ♥ NYC

Together, BIG + Times Square Alliance + Flatcut + Local Projects and Zumtobel celebrates with a BIG red pulsating heart in the middle of Times Square, New York. The 10-foot-tall heart pulsates as the 400 transparent, LED lit, acrylic tubes sway in the wind. Once people touch the heart-shaped sensor, the light grows brighter and the pulse beats faster. Joining hands with more people will increase the intensity of the heart.

“The heart reflects what Times Square is made of: people and light – the more people, the stronger the light,” , Founder & Partner, BIG.

See the love with the video above and more images after the break.

BIG wins competition for the new Kimball Art Center in Park City

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BIG has just been announced as the winner of the competition for the new Kimball Art Center in Park City, . The non-profit community center for the visual arts, which started in 1976, invites people to experience art through education, exhibitions and events. The aging historic building (dated from 1929) was in need of restoration and an addition that could allow the organization to increase their educational outreach and enhance the quality and scale of the exhibitions, while maintaining free admission to the public.

The competition’s shortlist included some of the (in my opinion) best firms in the US these days: BIG (actually Danish, but with an office in NY, which in a way “landed” in the US with several ongoing projects), Brooks + ScarpaSparano + Mooney ArchitectureTod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, and Will Bruder + Partners LTD

You can check BIG’s proposal previously featured at ArchDaily, a project that stood out not only in formal aspects, but because of its connection with the history that the Kimball Art Center has represented.

Kimball Art Center / BIG

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In approaching the design for the new Kimball Art Center, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) found great inspiration in the urban development of Park City, the Kimball site, and the city’s mining heritage. They feel the form of the new Kimball Art Center emerges where these rich stories overlap. More images and architects’ description after the break.