Bjarke Ingels: Making it BIG

Canvs Editorial
Jan 22 · 5 min read
LEGO House model made with LEGO
LEGO House model made with LEGO

“You take a wild idea, that is pure fiction, and you turn it into a hard fact.” — Bjarke Ingels.

Bjarke Ingels is one of the most distinguished and innovative architects of our time.

One would think Architecture would be his passion growing up, but instead, he wanted to be an illustrator/cartoonist, and design his own graphic novels. In the hopes of becoming better and more competent at drawing and sketching, he pursued Architecture from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts for Architecture. He continued his studies at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona.

Bjarke worked under Rem Koolhaas, one of the worlds most renowned architects, for 3 years, which was an eye-opener for him, in both positive and deeply negative ways. He observed that Koolhaas’ projects reflected social, political and technological situations, instead of being an autonomous art form, he realised that the fun in architecture didn’t exist there because it was far too tethered by reality.

Making it BIG

Bjarke founded BIG in 2006, establishing Bjarke Ingels Group, the Partner-in-Charge of all those unconventional buildings.

Danish for “Design” is “Formgive”, which essentially means giving form to the future, and he feels architects have the power to facilitate this conception.

He believes in the idea of “pragmatic utopian” designs and brings this philosophy to life through his architecture projects.

If we were to put together functionality, fantasy, sustainability and eco-friendliness in architecture, the outcome would be an Ingel’s.

His architectural vision seeks to bring innovation in a way that impacts how we look at design as a whole and how design impacts every aspect of our lives. He designs his buildings that would potentially suffice and stand the environment changes, even tens of years down the line.

His ideas revolve around his belief of providing a sustainable human life on Earth with the existing technologies. Ingels views Architecture as a form of Art and Science to create a world of our dreams. It’s not just a stylistic exercise, it’s about making a stand, as species, on what kind of world we want to live in.

His designs are incredibly cost-effective and attainable. All his designs are in direct dialogue with nature and society, is one of the most striking concepts about his architectural style. He considers the natural world around his buildings to a much larger degree.

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VM Houses, Copenhagen (Source)

For starters, let’s take a look at the VM Houses. The terminology here is derived from the fact that buildings spell “V” and “M” from the top view. It is designed with an emphasis on daylight, views of the surrounding landscape and privacy of the residents.

He breaks free from the monotonous urban environments with his non-conforming style.

His highly work received recognition by The Wall Street Journal as the Innovator of the Year for Architecture, in October 2011. In 2004 he received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale and the Danish Crown Prince’s Culture Prize in 2011. Moreover, BIG received Architizer’s Firm of the Year Award in 2014.

Let’s look at some of his best and most unique work

LEGO House:

The aerial view and interior shot of the LEGO house
The aerial view and interior shot of the LEGO house

What’s one thing LEGO play and architecture have in common? Empowering people to imagine a new world creatively, that is more compelling and expressive.

LEGO house situated in Billund, Denmark, the birthplace of LEGO bricks, manifests Bjarke’s idea of bringing a fantasy world to life.

It is the real-life-architectural-scale portrayal of warm childhood memories.

It represents the culture and experiences of the LEGO world. Bjarke fashioned it in such a way that everyone could have an immersive and interactive experience. He aimed to build something that would be just as playful, engaging and interactive as LEGO is in itself.

It is divided into 4 play zones, all colour-coded, to represent various aspects of a child’s learning- Red: Creative, blue: cognitive, green: social and yellow: emotional.

The bricks are stacked and nested in the golden ratio, and Bjarke also installed 8 skylights atop the brick to represent the studs of a Lego brick.

It is a tribute to creativity and expressiveness of playful children and adults with an imagination that knows no bounds.

Amager Resource Center (ARC):

A ski slope on the top of a waste-to-energy plant
A ski slope on the top of a waste-to-energy plant

Bjarke took things to the next level when he constructed a ski slope atop the waste-to-energy power plant. His prime focus in designs is its interaction with nature and its positive environmental, economical and social impact on the world.

This project is the epitome of Bjarke’s vision. The slope, real-mountain-like with green forest areas, is ecological and available all-year-round.

VIA 57 West:

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Bjarke drew inspiration from the US and Europe, combining the best of both worlds in his VIA 57 West project in New York City. It is a unique blend of an American skyscraper with the European courtyard’s communal space.

The Tetrahedron is a work of art, in a sense that it’s designed in a manner that each apartment gets the best of what nature has to offer.

This is achieved by three corners being low, lifting the fourth corner, opening up the entire building’s uninterrupted view to the Hudson River, and its interaction with the daylight, letting the sun deep into the block, making it one of the best residential blocks in Manhattan.

The list of his best work doesn’t end here, you can read about his other projects and what he has in mind for the future, here!

“Yes is More” Graphic Novel by Bjarke Ingels
“Yes is More” Graphic Novel by Bjarke Ingels

He also released a graphic novel called “Yes is more” in 2009, taking you through the journey of his thought process behind his top 30 projects. (Fulfilling his childhood dream of being a graphic novelist :))

“Nobody will entrust you to build a building until you’ve already built a building.”- Bjarke.

All in all, it’s safe to say, they live up to their name, they think “BIG”.

Canvs

Meaningful stories and insightful analyses on design.

Canvs Editorial

Written by

Meaningful stories and insightful analyses on design | Writers at @UXCollective and @TheStartup. Check out the work we do: https://canvs.club/

Canvs

Canvs

Meaningful stories and insightful analyses on design.

Canvs Editorial

Written by

Meaningful stories and insightful analyses on design | Writers at @UXCollective and @TheStartup. Check out the work we do: https://canvs.club/

Canvs

Canvs

Meaningful stories and insightful analyses on design.

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