How form-making will unlock the power of architecture__Bjarke Ingels

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How form-making will unlock the power of architecture__Bjarke Ingels
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How form-making will unlock the power of architecture__Bjarke Ingels

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How form-making will unlock the power of architecture__Bjarke Ingels
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Bjarke Ingels is a global brand. Whatever one feels about starchitects in general, he is a force to be reckoned with. What does he think is the future of buildings and cities? What role will design play in solving the climate crisis?

We open season 4 with the visionary Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group — commonly referred to as BIG. Known for ground-breaking projects, BIG is a powerhouse of ideas in architecture, product and landscape design, engineering and planning. The firm has a staff of 700 in offices in Copenhagen, New York, London, Barcelona, Shenzhen, Oslo and Los Angeles.

Bjarke’s latest book, “Formgiving: An Architectural Future History”, frames his work as an exploration of form to forge a pathway to a sustainable future.

Episode outline

00:01:09 “The sustainable city or sustainable building is not only the right thing to do for the environment, but it’s also the much more enjoyable and desirable thing to do for the people that live with it and around it.”
00:01:18 “Rather than the sustainable performance being a sort of afterthought or an add-on, try to work with it to become part of the defining identity of a project.”
00:03:19 What gives you hope?
00:04:57 “Incredible possibilities lie ahead. I think Earth and the population of earthlings have definitely woken up to the urgency of climate change, maybe a little late.”
00:06:57 The significance of form
00:19:13 Does sustainability cost more?
00:21:36 “If you have a long-term view 20, 30 years, 50 years, then there is no premium to sustainable design.”
00:24:43 “I think it isn’t true, that public and private interests are always at odds because I think in the case of city development, of course the people living there, they want a lovely lively environment.”
00:32:20 Rethinking the city
00:36:24 “I think it’s fascinating, we’re commissioned by an automaker and we end up proposing a future city where two-thirds of the right of way is actually given over to more exciting forms of life than cars.”
00:45:38 Becoming Bjarke
00:45:50 “It was a big blow to see the 2 World Trades Centre pass by after having worked on it so intensely for two years.”

Summary

At the core of this book, one simple question: if architects do not make the rules nor sign cheques, what do actually they control? The answer, implicit in the publication title, is form.

Form, he says, can elevate the quality of our lives. It can embed built-in performance that lasts the life of the building. Form is akin to DNA: innovations to typologies today can alter projects tomorrow, not unlike a Darwinian road to evolutionary change.

Bjarke Ingels’ approach is rooted in a belief in the power of form-making, starting with the first sketch on the drawing board.
© Wallpaper / Bjarke Ingels Group

Bjarke cites the example of CopenHill, a waste-to-energy power plant that has upended the cliché of infrastructure. He reveals how the arrangement of equipment inside the architecture created new possibilities outside.

The structure doubles up as a recreational amenity with skiing and rock climbing. Since it opened, it has become an urban attraction for Copenhageners and a habitat for flora and fauna in the region.

The CopenHill power plant is a waste-to-energy facility in Copenhagen (Denmark) with recreational space, transforming functional infrastructure into a noteworthy urban landmark.
© Rasmus Hjortshoj / Bjarke Ingels Group

CophenHill is exemplary of BIG’s mantra of ‘hedonistic sustainability’: buildings are designed to be performative and pleasurable. The road to sustainability is therefore neither a compromise nor a sacrifice.

CapitaSpring in Singapore is a mixed-use tower holding some 80,000 plants on landscape surfaces distributed vertically that add up to more than 140% of its site area.
© Bjarke Ingels Group

By making projects green and attractive, Bjarke implicitly reframes the conversation on cost. A building is valued not only for what it does but also for the way it is perceived. Good design takes a long-term view, bringing together objective and subjective metrics, seen together over time.

BIG’s new headquarters in Copenhagen (Denmark) is a prime example of this lifecycle approach. Its energy-efficient systems and comfortable interiors cost more initially, but the price is recovered in the long run through lower operational expenses and higher occupant productivity and satisfaction.

BIG’s new office building in Copenhagen (Denmark) uses Uni-Green, a novel concrete, which offers carbon dioxide reduction of around 25 per cent.
© Laurian Ghinitoiu / Bjarke Ingels Group

This cost recovery factor also applies to commercial projects, where developers are more profit-oriented. In the New York (USA) residential project VIA 57 West, for instance, BIG combines the communal space of a mid-rise European courtyard block with the density of a skyscraper. The social green space at the centre of this development, says the developer, is also its biggest selling point, one that commands higher rents.

VIA 57 West is a hybrid between a European courtyard block and a Manhattan high-rise, resulting in a new typology called the ‘courtscraper’.
© Bjarke Ingels Group

In this interview, Bjarke extrapolates the rethink of building typologies to the scale of urban morphologies. Two of the group’s masterplans, Oceanix City and Toyota Woven City, explore the future of urbanism and tackle patterns of future mobility systems, the risk of sea level rise, and the need for modularity and scalability.

Oceanix City is a highly modularised concept for a floating city that will serve as a solution for populations threatened by rising sea levels.
© Bjarke Ingels Group
Toyota Woven City is conceived as a living laboratory to test and improve mobility, autonomy, connectivity and hydrogen-powered infrastructure in Japan.
© Bjarke Ingels Group

BIG has witnessed meteoric growth in the past decade, boasting an impressive portfolio of projects worldwide. However, Bjarke believes his best is yet to come.

The BIG design approach sees material innovation as a way to reshape future buildings, as evidenced by the world’s largest mass-timber airport, under development in Zurich (Switzerland).
© IMIGO / Bjarke Ingels Group

He is a thinking-man’s star-architect. Bjarke projects an aura of a designer chic but, at the same time, speaks the language of science and engineering. His view on the future of the planet ought to be taken seriously for what it says about the power of design and the role of architects.

This episode is now available as a full-length video on Ecogradia’s YouTube channel.

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Episode Notes

Keep reading if you want to deep dive into this interview’s content and get more out of it. You can also find out more about this episode’s guest/s and sponsor/s, and the team that put it all together.

This episode is brought to you by:

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The Holcim Foundation helps drive systemic change towards a more sustainable built environment. It was founded in 2003 to define and promote the key principles of sustainability for the construction sector and is committed to accelerating the sector’s transformation so that people and the planet can thrive.

The Foundation has investigated various aspects of sustainable construction via a series of roundtables and conferences with international experts. It has also recognised excellent contributions to this field with the Holcim Awards which are considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.

Committed to a holistic approach that recognises the equal importance and interdependence of four key goals, the Foundation combines the collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions of our global community of experts with a recognised platform of international competitions to democratise thought leadership for the entire sector.

W  |  holcimfoundation.org

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

This episode is brought to you by:

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The Holcim Foundation helps drive systemic change towards a more sustainable built environment. It was founded in 2003 to define and promote the key principles of sustainability for the construction sector and is committed to accelerating the sector’s transformation so that people and the planet can thrive.

The Foundation has investigated various aspects of sustainable construction via a series of roundtables and conferences with international experts. It has also recognised excellent contributions to this field with the Holcim Awards which are considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.

Committed to a holistic approach that recognises the equal importance and interdependence of four key goals, the Foundation combines the collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions of our global community of experts with a recognised platform of international competitions to democratise thought leadership for the entire sector.

W  |  holcimfoundation.org

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

As mentioned in this episode

If you heard it in this episode, we likely have a link for it right here. Click on any topics, people, buildings, places, products and/or technologies listed below to learn more about each of them.

00:04:01 “…of innovation and he talks about the singularity…”
The Sustainability Singularity: Accelerating Industrial Energy Transition” | ARC Advisory Group
00:07:06 “…here is a quote from your new book, ‘Form Giving’…”
Form Giving: An Architectural Future History” | Taschen
00:15:13 “…I mean, so when you talk about hedonistic sustainability, you’re talking about performance…”
The hedonistic sustainability concept in the works of Bjarke Ingels” | Research Gate
00:34:30 “…integrated forms of mobility, multimodal forms of mobility…”
Integrated mobility can fast-track cities to cleaner, safer streets” | Automotive World
00:34:30 “…integrated forms of mobility, multimodal forms of mobility, driverlessness…”
Multimodal Transportation” | TN Department of Health
00:34:34 “…driverlessness, fuel cell technology, battery technology, sensory technology…”
Fuel Cells” | Office Of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
00:34:37 “…fuel cell technology, battery technology, sensor technology…”
Explore the next generation of battery technology” | S&P Global
00:34:38 “…battery technology, sensor technology, domestic robots…”
Sensor Technologies for Intelligent Transportation Systems” | National Library for Medicine
00:34:40 “…sensor technology, domestic robots, a matter net that delivers the goods into your home…”
Domestic Robots” | Wikipedia
00:34:45 “…a Matternet that delivers the goods into your home…”
Matternet’s Vision For Drones To Become A Mainstream Delivery Channel” | Forbes
00:34:49 “…a fuel cell like hydrogen-based power grid, and to…”
A study on green hydrogen-based isolated microgrid” | Science Direct
00:43:07 “…water and you sail through them in gondolas…”
Gondola” | Wikipedia
00:43:22 “…thing that jumps at me is the idea of scalability…”
Sustainable scaling: what it is and how you do it” | Tech Funding News
00:43:26 “…So this is a modularity…”
The role of modularity in sustainable design: A systematic review” | Science Direct
00:44:56 “…from fish farming and sea-based agriculture to algae farming for oil like…”
Integrated marine aquaculture-agriculture: Sea farming out of the sea” | Global Sea Food Alliance
00:45:00 “…sea-based agriculture to algae farming for oil like…”
Algae as a Sustainable and Renewable Bioresource for Bio-Fuel Production” | Science Direct
00:05:39 “…I love Darwin so much that I call my first son…”
Charles Darwin, British naturalist” | Britannica
00:05:53 “…Well, so Leo is named after DaVinci…”
Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian artist, engineer, and scientist” | Britannica
00:05:56 “…It could also be Messi…”
Lionel Messi, Argentine-born football player” | Britannica
00:14:21 “…environment that looks like a set from Star Wars because everything is different…”
Star Wars, film series” | Britannica
00:31:50 “…with the joint research centre for the European Commission in Seville, we are succeeding…”
The JRC in Seville (Spain)” | European Commission
00:32:45 “…in collaboration with a car manufacturer, Toyota…”
Toyota” | Toyota
00:33:45 “…And the president of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, as his name…”
Akio Toyoda” | Britannica
00:40:03 “…we co-founded called Urban Rigger that is using floating…”
Urban Rigger” | Urban Rigger
00:50:22 “…I mean, I think Frank Lloyd Wright hadn’t started Falling Water at Guggenheim…”
Frank Llyod Wright, American architect” | Britannica
00:51:18 “…I would love, just like for instance, Arup, the engineers…”
Arup” | Arup
00:51:50 “…by actually a Danish engineer some decades ago…”
Ove Arup” | Wikipedia
00:07:34 “…and performance in the context of one of your projects, CopenHill…”
Copenhill” | BIG
00:09:03 “…going to be cleaner than the air of Copenhagen…”
Copenhagen, national capital, Denmark” | Britannica
00:09:25 “…don’t have topography in Denmark really, and especially…”
Denmark” | Britannica
00:17:38 “…Mediterranean climates like California and Italy and Spain, but where…”
California state, United States” | Britannica
00:17:38 “…climates like California and Italy and Spain, but where…”
Italy” | Britannica
00:17:39 “…like California and Italy and Spain…”
Spain” | Britannica
00:17:50 “…catenary canopies of Google’s headquarters in Mountain View…”
Google HQ” | BIG
00:17:52 “…Google’s headquarters in Mountain View or in Milan…”
Mountain View, California” | Britannica
00:17:53 “…headquarters in Mountain View or in Milan…”
Milan, Italy” | Britannica
00:21:00 “…We just finished our own headquarters in Copenhagen…”
BIG HQ” | BIG
00:27:02 “…our first project here in New York was the V57…”
New York City” | Britannica
00:27:02 “…project here in New York was the V57…”
VIA57 West” | BIG
00:31:53 “…for the European Commission in Seville, we are succeeding…”
Seville, Spain” | Britannica
00:32:33 “…The first is Oceanic City, which is a modular floating settlement…”
Oceanix City” | BIG
00:32:40 “…And the other is Toyota Woven City, a prototype for future mobility…”
Toyota Woven City” | BIG
00:32:40 “…And the other is Toyota Woven City, a prototype for future mobility…”
Toyota, Japan” | Britannica
00:32:44 “…in Japan in collaboration with a car manufacturer…”
Japan” | Britannica
00:32:58 “…city located at the base of Mount Fuji, taking advantage…”
Mount Fuji mountain, Japan” | Wikipedia
00:38:53 “…In Busan, South Korea, describe the city and then…”
Busan” | Wikipedia
00:38:53 “…In Busan, South Korea, describe the city and then…”
South Korea” | Britannica
00:39:22 “…a former minister from French Polynesia, a sovereign nation…”
French Polynesia” | Britannica
00:41:48 “…when a city like Miami Beach or a country like…”
Miami, Florida, United States” | Britannica
00:41:48 “…when a city like Miami Beach or a country like the Maldives are beginning…”
Maldives” | Britannica
00:43:00 “…most beautiful cities you can visit today, Venice…”
Venice, Italy” | Britannica
00:45:50 …it was a big blow to see the two World Trades Centre pass by after having worked…”
2 World Trade Center” | Wikipedia
00:47:21 “…main contract holder for the future airport of Zurich, the biggest timber building…”
Zurich Airport Building Dock A” | BIG
00:47:22 “…for the future airport of Zurich, the biggest timber building…”
Zürich, Switzerland” | Britannica
00:49:02 “…We’re actually also building a large airport building in Luxembourg that is also made out of timber…”
Skypark Business Center” | BIG
00:49:02 “…We’re actually also building a large airport building in Luxembourg that is also made out of timber…”
Luxembourg” | Luxembourg
00:49:11 “…we’re doing the Alva Philharmonic, the opera in Nashville…”
BIG, William Rawn Associates and EOA Architects Selected to Design the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s New Performance Home” | Archdaily
00:49:14 “…the opera in Nashville, and very soon what may be the largest…”
Nashville, Tennessee, United States” | Britannica
00:50:22 “…I mean, I think Frank Lloyd Wright hadn’t started Fallingwater and Guggenheim…”
Fallingwater” | Wikipedia
00:50:25 “…hadn’t started Falling Water and Guggenheim…”
Guggenheim Museum, art museum, New York City, New York, United States” | Wikipedia
00:50:29 “…nor Johnson Wax factory before the age of 60…”
Johnson Wax Headquarters” | Wikipedia
00:08:24 “…waste coming in one end and then going through a series of the silo…”
Silo” | Wikipedia
00:17:48 “…architecture like the catenary canopies of Google’s headquarters…”
Roof canopy of BIG + heatherwick’s google HQ campus revealed in new aerial pictures” | Designboom
00:18:21 “…kind of almost like pixelated solar dome that creates a…”
BIG solar dome wins competition for new JRC site in Seville” | European Commission
00:21:05 “…and the building is founded on energy piles…”
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Geotechnical Engineering” | ICE Virtual Library
00:24:04 “…aggregate that starts making the case for the photovoltaic cladding…”
Thermal regulation of photovoltaic cladding” | Science Direct
00:17:46 “…the integration of photovoltaics into the architecture…”
Photovoltaics” | Wikipedia

Host
Nirmal Kishnani

Producer
Maxime Flores

Managing editor
Kruti Choksi Kothari

Senior communications executive
Sana Gupta

Senior editor
Tyler Yeo

Art director
Alexander Melck | Phlogiston

Sound technician and editor
Kelvin Brown | Phlogiston

Video editor
Guellor Muguruka | Phlogiston

Graphic designer
Stian van Wyk | Phlogiston

 

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