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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels

Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels

Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels
Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels, Lego House. Image Courtesy of LEGO Group
Lego House. Image Courtesy of LEGO Group

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.

Denmark Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010. Image © Iwan Baan VM Houses / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG Danish National Maritime Museum. Image © Rasmus Hjortshõj 2016 Serpentine Pavilion. Image © Iwan Baan + 26

© DAC / Jakob Galtt
© DAC / Jakob Galtt
Danish National Maritime Museum. Image © Rasmus Hjortshõj
Danish National Maritime Museum. Image © Rasmus Hjortshõj

Ingels was born in Copenhagen in 1974 and began studying architecture at the Royal Academy in 1993. Interested in becoming a cartoonist, he originally attended architecture school with the hope that it would improve his drawing skills. However, while studying he discovered his passion for architecture and went on to continue his studies at the Technica Superior de Arquitectura in Barcelona. After working for three years at OMA in Rotterdam and then co-founding PLOT Architects with Julien de Smedt in 2001, Ingels went on to found his current practice, Bjarke Ingels Group, in 2005. With offices in Copenhagen and New York, BIG has grown at an astonishing rate and has quickly established an international presence.

Mountain Dwellings / PLOT = BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG
Mountain Dwellings / PLOT = BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG

Much of his philosophy about architecture is revealed in his 2009 manifesto entitled Yes is More, which introduces 30 projects from his practice in the familiar format of a comic book. In a concept that he calls “Hedonistic Sustainability,” many of his projects seek to question how sustainability can be playfully and responsibly integrated into buildings to actually increase standards of living. In a quote that summarizes BIG’s approach to architecture, Ingels states:

Historically the field of architecture has been dominated by two opposing extremes. On one side an avant-garde full of crazy ideas. Originating from philosophy, mysticism or a fascination of the formal potential of computer visualizations they are often so detached from reality that they fail to become something other than eccentric curiosities. On the other side there are well-organized corporate consultants that build predictable and boring boxes of high standard. Architecture seems to be entrenched in two equally unfertile fronts: either naively utopian or petrifyingly pragmatic. We believe that there is a third way wedged in the no-mans-land between the diametrical opposites. Or in the small but very fertile overlap between the two. A pragmatic utopian architecture that takes on the creation of socially, economically and environmentally perfect places as a practical objective.

VM Houses / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG
VM Houses / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG

In practice, this approach manifests in a strictly diagrammatic approach to generating architectural form that is borrowed from his former mentor Rem Koolhaas—albeit a more highly developed and systematic incarnation of such an approach. "Whether post-rationalized or generative," writes Justin Fowler, "BIG’s diagrams project an attitude of inevitability, suggesting that the final form is the necessary result." This approach to generating architecture is a perfect complement to Ingels' highly developed powers of presentation, persuasion, and self-promotion that have drawn both ire and admiration from the architectural profession at large. Undoubtedly though, all of these factors have played a role in the success of Ingels and BIG.

Copenhagen Harbour Bath / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of PLOT
Copenhagen Harbour Bath / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of PLOT

Ingels has been involved in countless design competitions and some of his built projects include the Danish Pavilion, VM Houses, Danish National Maritime Museum, Mountain Dwellings, and many others. His architectural debut in North America was VIΛ 57 West, an apartment building at 57th Street in Manhattan along the West Side Highway. Completed in 2016, even when this building was still under construction, it garnered enough attention to significantly bolster BIG's reputation in the United States, leading to the firm being selected to design the tower at Two World Trade Center in 2015 (though its future remains uncertain).

VIΛ 57 West. Image © Nic Lehoux
VIΛ 57 West. Image © Nic Lehoux

2018 has already been a significant year for the Danish designer. It was announced in May that the architect had been named Chief Architect at WeWork, a position that will see his already major influence stretch even further. Additionally his 2016 Serpentine Pavilion was recently relocated to Toronto, where it will remain until November (at which point it will be permanently moved to Vancouver.) But it's not all been smooth sailing: BIG's proposal for the Smithsonian Museum came under fire by none other than the Fine Arts Commission.

Denmark Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010. Image © Iwan Baan Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium. Image © Jens Lindhe Mountain Dwellings / PLOT = BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG VM Houses / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of BIG Danish National Maritime Museum. Image © Rasmus Hjortshõj Sjakket Youth Club / PLOT = BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of PLOT Maritime Youth House / PLOT = BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of PLOT 8 House. Image © Jens Lindhe Copenhagen Harbour Bath / BIG + JDS. Image Courtesy of PLOT Sports & Arts Expansion at Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium. Image © Rasmus Hjortshõj 8 House. Image © Jens Lindhe VIΛ 57 West. Image © Nic Lehoux 2016 Serpentine Pavilion. Image © Iwan Baan Superkilen / Topotek 1 + BIG Architects + Superflex. Image © Iwan Baan VIΛ 57 West. Image © Nic Lehoux Grove at Grand Bay. Image Courtesy of Terra Hualien Residence. Image © Jinho Lee TIRPITZ. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Urban Rigger. Image Courtesy of BIG + 26

AD Interviews: Bjarke Ingels / BIG

Yes Is More: The BIG Philosophy

Bjarke Ingels Named One of TIME's 100 Most Influential People

Why BIG's Fearless Architecture Should Be Awarded and Celebrated

The Business of Design Success: How did BIG Get So... Big?

The Prince: Bjarke Ingels's Social Conspiracy

VIDEO: Bjarke Ingels on "Promiscuous Hybrids" and "Worldcraft"

Video: Bjarke Ingels Exposes His Roots

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

Bjarke Ingels' Advice for the Young: "It's Important to Care"

Bjarke Ingels: "The One Thing We All Share is Planet Earth"

Video: Bjarke Ingels on the Power of Architecture

Bjarke Ingels on Sculptural Skyscrapers and Refining Parameters in High Rise Design

How Bjarke Ingels Is Making a Power Plant One of Denmark's Most Exciting Public Spaces

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

Check out some of BIG's projects through the thumbnails below, as well as ArchDaily's interviews, videos, and articles on the man himself below those:

About this author
Evan Rawn
Author
Cite: Evan Rawn. "Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels" 02 Oct 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/553064/spotlight-bjarke-ingels/> ISSN 0719-8884
Read comments
Lego House. Image Courtesy of LEGO Group

聚焦:BIG建筑事务所合伙人 Bjarke Ingels

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