BJARKE INGELS: ARCHITECTURE'S LATEST HERO 

One of the world’s top young architects, Bjarke Ingels has built up a practice that employs over 200 people with offices in both Copenhagen and New York, all before the age of 40.

 

Today his multi award winning company ‘BIG’ (Bjarke Ingles Group) is a leader in the field of innovative contemporary architecture. Often quoted for his revolutionary approach, Bjarke’s focusses on finding a route between the ‘..rational consultants who give you professional but maybe predictable designs’ and ‘… an avant garde which is often very creative and expressive and wonderfully artistic, but also irrational and unpractical and expensive.’

 

His desire to create unique and better buildings has resulted in equally inspiring commissions. Having spent his former years working for the legendary Rem Koolhaas, Bjark is acutely aware of the industry’s catch 22 ‘…you can’t do it till you proven yourself and you can’t prove yourself till you get to do it.’

Acknowledging a different approach was needed, the majority of B.I.G.’s early projects came via open competitions. This platform granted Bjarke the opportunity to produce inspired solutions to ordinary briefs.

 

Seeking to ‘transform people’s perceptions’ about public unity buildings, BIG’s winning proposal for the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen will feature smoke rings and include a 31,000m2 ski slope on its roof (left). Currently the company has over 23 projects under construction, with over half of these coming from open competitions and include watchmaker Audemars Pigeut’s headquarters in Switzerland and Greenland’s National Gallery.

 

Opening a New York office in 2010 proved immediately beneficial for the Dane, who has since remarked that America ‘has more of a courageous ability to think laterally’ than Europe. Commenting on the $2 billion commission received from the Smithsonian Institution, Bjarke said that

‘they are basically entrusting us with the crown jewels of American subculture and history, having not really built the museum yet, which I think is a uniquely American way. This is almost unimaginable in

Europe.’

 

It seems that BIG has struck the right cord with the country’s establishment with the company recently granted an estimated $400m in federal funds to lead New York’s ‘Dryline Project.’ Ambitious in both scale and scope, this flood defence project is the city’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Proposing to construct a landscaped buffer reaching from West 57th St. down to the Battery and back up to East 42nd Street,

Bjarke aims to effectively provide the city with a 10 mile protective ‘Green Cushion.’

With current projects including the complete transformation of Google’s HQ, and industry rumours suggesting Bjarke will replace Foster on the World Trade Centre Tower, BIG’s profile and influence continues to grow. Losing out on a recent commission to his former mentor Rem Koolhaas, one can’t help but wonder when its time to pass the mantle?

Notable Awards and Exhibitions:

• 2007 BIG City, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York

• 2008 World Architecture Festival Award for Best Residential Building

• 2009 MIPIM Award for best residential development

• 2010 Yes is More, CAPC Bordeaux

• 2011 Prix Delarue, French Academy of Architecture, Paris

• 2013 Red Dot Award: Product Design, ‘Best of the Best’ | Architecture & Urban Design

• 2013 International Olympic Committee Award, Gold Medal

• 2014 The BIG Maze, National Building Museum

• 2015 HOT TO COLD, National Building Museum

Completed Projects:

• Mountain Dwellings, Ørestad, Copenhagen (2008)

• Danish Expo Pavilion 2010, EXPO 2010, Shanghai, China (2010)

• Superkilen,Nørrebro, Copenhagen (2012)

• The BIG Maze, National Building Museum, Washington D.C (2014)

Current Projects:

• The Big U, New York City, United States

• West 57, New york City, United States

• LEGO House, Billund, Denmark

• Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant, Copenhagen, Denmark (competition win 2011)

• Audemars Piguet Headquarters, La Vallée de Joux, La Brassus, Switzerland (competition win, June

2014)