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Bjarke Ingels

Award-winning Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has charmed the world with his environmental friendly creative designs. A vision shared by him and his firm BIG is sustainability, which shines through in all of his projects: the Denmark Pavilion for Shanghai expo 2010 and the 8 House in Copenhagen, to name a few.

LOFT asked him to share his ideas.

Your ideas revolve around the coined term, ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’, could you briefly explain what this means?

The general perception of sustainability is this idea of a moral code: How much of our existing quality of life are we prepared to sacrifice to afford being sustainable? Which is why now we are looking at how sustainable cities or sustainable buildings can increase the quality of life so people can live exactly the way they want. Essentially, it is to approach the question of sustainability not as a moral dilemma but as a design challenge.

A Pragmatic Utopia is the vision BIG strive towards: how do you plan on achieving this vision?

Architecture seems entrenched between two equally unfertile fronts: either naively utopian or petrifyingly pragmatic. Rather than choosing one over the other, BIG operates in the fertile overlap between the two opposites: A pragmatic utopian architecture that takes on the creation of socially, economically and environmentally perfect places, as a practical objective.

What advise would you give to young and aspiring architects around the world?

Don’t complicate things. Many architects are afraid of being banal or unsophisticated. At BIG we are interested in complex issues. But complexity is very different from complication. So I think a good way to find your way is to simply pursue your ideas in their most blatant form – cause in a complex world full of political and economical turmoil to realize a single big idea is quite an accomplishment.

Can you talk about your current projects?

We are building the Shenzhen Energy Company’s Headquarters – a 250m tall low energy high-rise in downtown Shenzhen. Its rippled façade is designed to maximize daylight while minimizing solar exposure and glare – thus reducing energy consumption for cooling and providing a distinct architectural expression.

What are the main policies and guidelines BIG has to follow?

I think Darwin is one of the people that best explained how we work. His famous evolutionary tree from “the origin of species” could practically be a diagram of how we work. Life and architecture evolves through generations of design meetings in a process of excess and selection – way too many individuals – or ideas – are born, than can possibly survive. Only the ones that live long enough to mate are able to pass on their attributes to the next design meeting – and gradually a new idea evolves.

You have been referred to as both a rebel and a creative genius. Which title do you prefer being associated with?

The traditional image of the radical architect is the angry young man or woman rebelling against the establishment, or the misunderstood genius frustrated that the world doesn’t fit into his or her ideas.

Rather than revolution we are interested in evolution: the notion that ideas evolve by adapting to all external influences from the society and context of any project.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Pretty much everywhere. Since I travel quite a bit, of course in all the waiting that is involved with that, you have time to sort of crunch through things. I have this little moleskin classic architects notebook, and I use my phone and take pictures I find inspiring and send it to the team. Each culture or country does things differently, even the simple, ordinary things, and I think quite often something completely stands out.


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