The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.
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...
Part of the answer may lie with Ingels’s brand of populism, which is as much about being social as it is about the social.
Since ArchDaily started, we have interviewed close to two hundred architects to understand the diversity of our profession, and to give you insights from the most successful practices in the world.
What has the internationally awarded Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to do with Friederich Nietzsche and Charles Darwin? Quite a lot, according to founder Bjarke Ingels, who has created a powerful mixture of Nietzsche and Darwin as the philosophical foundation of BIG’s architecture.
Read Anders Møller's fascinating article on BIG's unusual philosophy, after the break...
It's official! Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG has been commissioned to collaborate with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) and COWI to design the first public LEGO® museum in the company's hometown of Billund, Denmark. The "LEGO® Brand House" and "experience centre" is intended to compliment the non-public "LEGO® Idea House", which is also located in Billund.
Bjarke Ingles, founder of BIG stated: “It's going to be looking at LEGO® from all its different aspects—LEGO® as an art form, its cultural impact. When we were doing the research for it [the LEGO® house], we realized, if you would consider it just an art museum, you would be able to fill it with so much user content of such a high quality...it is one of our great dreams at BIG that we are now able to design a building for and with the LEGO® group. I owe a huge personal debt to the LEGO® brick, and I can see in my nephews that its role in developing the child as a creative, thinking, imaginative human being becomes ever stronger in a world in which creativity and innovation are key elements in virtually all aspects of society.”
More on LEGO®'s BIG commission after the break...
There are many things that set BIG’s latest project, Amager Bakke, apart. The plant, which broke ground yesterday, will be the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world. It will be the tallest and biggest building in Copenhagen. It will house Denmark’s first ski-slope (on the roof of the plant, no less). It will emit its CO2 emissions - not as a continuous stream of smoke, oh no - but in sudden, bursting smoke rings.
However, the Amager Bakke waste-to-energy Plant is far more than the sum of its rather remarkable features. As an urban “destination in itself” and a landmark in environmental design, it’s one of the most radical representations of architecture as a means of public engagement of our time. And, what’s more, it’s a signal that BIG has finally reached maturity, truly coming into its own as a firm.
The Lisbon Triennale has announced the panel of judges for this year's projects. The panel will be composed of important architects like Bjarke Ingels of BIG, Minsuk Cho of Mass Studies, Phillippe Rahm of Philippe Rahm Architects and Luis Santiago Baptista of the journal Arqa.
Bjarke Ingels, who heads up the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), was in Sydney recently and did a talk at the Australian Institute of Architects, which was sponsored and organized by HASSELL. With the common design values and easy fit between BIG and HASSELL, they make a powerful team. So BIG, whose projects we have published here, visited Sydney to explore the potential for future project collaborations. More information and a video after the break.
As we have shared with you earlier, CNN’s The Next List has profiled the young, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. Originally aspired to be a cartoonist or graphic novelist, Ingels quickly became fascinated with architecture when a Fall storm rolled through his hometown in North Copenhagen, knocking over trees and leaving him a surplus of lumber. It was then that he was inspired to design his first project, the ultimate childhood “fantasy fort” with a moat, drawbridge and all. In Ingels first experience with value engineering, he quickly learned that “unless you really begin with the perimeters of reality you’ll end up sort of amputating your ambitions quite quickly.” Enjoy the video and be sure to check out CNN’s recent video focusing on the bold ideas behind BIG.
Together, BIG + Times Square Alliance + Flatcut + Local Projects and Zumtobel celebrates Valentines Day 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,” Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Partner, BIG.
See the love with the video above and more images after the break.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN’s “The Next List” features the bold and innovative ideas of Bjarke Ingels, focusing on the West 57th project that is transforming Manhattan skyline. Ingels states, “In the big picture, architecture is the art and science of making sure that our cities and buildings fit the way we want to live our lives.” The video also features comments from Robert A. M. Stern, Dean at Yale School of Architecture, and Douglas Durst, the developer of West 57th. Check it out!
Bjarke Ingels recently appeared on CNN’s series Big Idea, very fitting for his architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group or BIG. Utilizing the firm’s website, Ingels turns it into a presentation tool, and with ease discusses the design process, sharing diagrams and photographs for four of their projects: Mountain Dwellings, their submission to the Shanghai Expo complete with video of Ingels himself riding through the Danish Pavilion, the recently unveiled designs for West 57th in New York City, and the winning design for a new Waste-to-Energy plan in Denmark. The quick, straightforward, and stylish presentation beckons the question, is there still a place for powerpoint?
The awkwardly shaped large site at West Side Highway and 57th Street is about to get a whole lot more attention. Bjarke Ingels and BIG will finally make their architectural debut in North America, with an unusual apartment building design in none other than New York City. The asymmetrical peak almost pyramid in shape is the result of blending the mismatched forms of a typical Manhattan tower podium and a low-rise apartment block European in style.
BIG’s reinvention of the ‘New York apartment building’ somehow is able to check all of the boxes, providing a connection to the waterfront and the Hudson River Park, acknowledging the surrounding context both in relationship to building size and neighbors’ views, and alleviating traffic noise. The leafy green courtyards that pop up within this new residential typology help to balance a steeply sloped facade, 450-feet at its peak. Designed for client Durst Fetner Residential, the building offers both a cultural and commercial program and will accommodate 600 residential units varying in size.
Follow the break for the architect’s description and more photographs.
Architects: BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group Location: Manhattan, New York, USA Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels Project Leader: Beat Schenk Project Architect: Sören Grünert Project Team: Thomas Christoffersen, Celine Jeanne, Daniel Sundlin, Alessandro Ronfini, Aleksander Tokarz, Alessio Valmori, Alvaro Garcia Mendive, Felicia Guldberg, Gabrielle Nadeau, Ho Kyung Lee, Julian Liang, Julianne Gola, Lucian Racovitan, Marcela Martinez, Maria Nikolova, Minjae Kim, Mitesh Dixit, Nicklas Rasch, Riccardo Mariano, Stanley Lung, Steffan Heath, Thilani Rajarathna, Xu Li Architect of Record: SLCE Architects Landscape Architects: Starr Whitehouse Structural: Thornton Tomasetti MEP: Dagher Engineering Civil: Langan Engineering Construction Manager: Hunter Roberts Transportation: Philip Habib & Assoc. Building Envelope: Israel Berger & Assoc. Marketing: Nancy Packes Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Assoc. Acoustical: Cerami & Assoc. Wind: CPP Environmental: AKRF Client: Durst Fetner Residential Project Area: 870,000 sqf Renderings & Animation: German Glessner
Selecting the most outstanding projects in sustainable construction from several thousand submissions will be the challenging task of more than fifty leading experts on sustainability. The jury members for the 3rd International Holcim Awards competition include architects Bjarke Ingels (Denmark), Keller Easterling (USA) and Michel Rojkind (Mexico) – all independent experts of international stature engaged in the sustainable development of society, building processes, construction materials, and building projects.
Entries in the USD 2 million competition are evaluated using five “target issues” to define sustainable construction. Three of these stem from the triple bottom line of balanced social, environmental and economic performance. The two remaining issues pay homage to contextual and aesthetic impact, along with innovation and transferability. A series of five jury panels will meet in June/July 2011 in each of the five world regions: Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa Middle East, and Asia Pacific.
BIG has proven in the past to be a source of innovating projects. Their idea is far beyond the superficial: it´s about improving the city, as you can see on this presentation by Bjarke Ingels for 8 House.
For this project -which will open in October-, BIG has been honored by the Scandinavian Green Roof Association as the Best Green Roof in the Scandinavia for its 1.700 m2 sloping green roof at an award ceremony held at 8 House in Oerestad, Copenhagen.
More information about this award after the break.