“The greatest thing about being an architect,” pronounced Bjarke Ingels, “is that you build buildings.”
The audience at the world premiere of the highly anticipated documentary film, BIG TIME, snickered at the seemingly obvious statement. But Ingels, ever the showman, explained himself: by building buildings, architects occupy the unique position of being able to add to the built environment the “most unlikely combinations,” which, ultimately, shape the world “just because [they] thought it.” He seems awed by the concept – the same awe portrayed in BIG TIME as the architect designs the skyscraper that will change New York City’s skyline.
The Danish architect has previously been the subject of at least two other widely released documentaries: a film about the 8-House titled The Inifinite Happiness, and his own episode of Abstract, the Netflix series that looks into the lives of artists and creators. BIG TIME, however, stands out for its unconventional intentions; unlike most architecture films which emphasize design and construction, this documentary aims to depict its subject as a whole, posing more intimate questions regarding the sacrifices that come with success as stratospheric as Ingels has experienced in the 15 years since starting his company.
Rarely are you able to see a world-renowned architect in a hospital entering an MRI machine, or in the back of a cab embracing his significant other, yet these scenes are present in the film and manage to humanize a character often regarded more as legend than man.
But not everything is personal – another aspect the film seems interested in exploring is the value of innovation and transcendence in architecture. At one point, Ingels speaks on the irony of designs once seen as innovative later becoming petrifying for architecture, specifically with regards to modernism. He also mentions the Sydney Opera House – what he deems to be the most recognizable building in the world – saying that every architect dreams of one day building their own Sydney Opera.
In an exclusive interview with ArchDaily the day following the premiere, Ingels had this to say:
"I think I say this in the movie, but even if I practice until I drop dead, maybe we’ll make 200 buildings, and that will be a lot. But 200 buildings in a 7-billion-people planet is not a lot. The real way that you can really have an impact on the lives of the many is if what you do somehow is either scalable, replicable, or inspiring."
Check out the rest of the interview above.
BIG TIME was the opening film at the Copenhagen Architecture Festival on April 26th, and premiered the following week in more than 50 cinemas around Denmark.