Review of Life and the Activity of Bjarke Ingles

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When we talk about this architect in particular we have to imagine a whole new world; a world where we, in our living and working environment, find ourselves in complete contempt. Danish architect Bjarke Ingles is slowly revolutionising architecture. Born on October 20th and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was surrounded by direct family such as his mother and father who were both following professional fields at the time. His mother was a dentist while his father followed an engineering profession. This likely played a vital role in the formative stages of his life. After moving to New York City in 2012, he started to share his life with his Spanish girlfriend, Ruth Otero, who is also in the field of architecture.

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The steps Ingles took were not what he originally envisioned at all. His original plan did not incorporate the construction industry in any way or form. Initial goals when starting his studies with the Royal Academy for Architecture in 1974 were to improve on his artistic and design skills. What he was met with was a new burning passion which he saw a world to help mould and grow with. The start of a “starchitect”, no one was expecting the impact this young man would have. With a new goal set in mind he started studies though the Technica Superior De Arquitectura in Barcelona where he eventually received a diploma in the year 1999.

He immediately started working and found himself employed in his first job as an architect through a company OMA in Rottendam, Netherlands. It did not take long thereafter, three years later he made a move towards becoming an entrepreneur, getting up on his feet and started making steps towards managerial and CEO positions. Not long after that he became the co-founder of an architectural firm called PLOT architects in 2001. He is now happily and comfortably growing his own company called BIG (Bjarke Ingles Group). BIG started in 2005 and now after some incredible successes and growth spurts has offices in both Copenhagen and New York City. BIG is seen to be “where art, architecture, urbanism and nature magically find a new kind of balance.”

His working environment is a very important variable therefore making it an aim to always be working on new projects while always incorporating playful yet practical solutions. Ingle does not generally work on one single project for longer than three months before moving onto the next. With his large work force behind him to back him up, his projects are capable of reaching the quality of work that his clients expect from him. The culture in the working environment at BIG is seen as never endlessly fun, comfortable, playful and innovative. A motto seen in his working environment is “sustainability can be fun”, which summarises his ethos.

“With the invention of architecture and technology we have seized the power to adapt our surroundings to the way we want to live, rather than the other way around” This is a very large factor to one of the best-selling architectural books (Yes is More) currently available and written by Ingles. It aims at explaining the philosophies Bjarke has about architecture. Targeting crazy ideas from the norm to the fantastic, he is also taking a part in trying to expand young architect’s minds. He also authored / took part in an additional two books named: “BIG”, which leads you through the success, growth and goals of BIG (Bjarke Ingles Group) and “Hot to Cold” which is based on around 60 case studies in harsh climate conditions and how said environments have an impact on the architecture.

Based on what Ingles talks about in his book Yes is More, we are informed that it is not about “the individual saying yes to one’s self, but saying yes to society” which can be rationalised to mean that, as nice as ones ideal design may go, there might be an option to best suit all factors and variables which does not relate to the original ideals. Ways to explain this would be a form of architecture that is adaptable or evolving and yet still specific to its local and historical circumstances. A book called Architectural Regionalism by Vincent B. Canizaro supports this philosophy as his books works around explaining the “tension between globalisation and localism”, which implies that international trends are in contrast with cultural perceptions, as discussed in the section titled: “Situating architectural regionalism(s)”.

Another book that supports another one of Ingles own writings is Big and Green by the National Building Museum (US). It directly relates to Hot and Cold. In the narrative chapter titled “What is sustainability, and architecture and nature’s law”, these subjects are discussed with regards to long-term goals, reducing consumption, energy use and waste. As mentioned previously, Hot and Cold talks about architectural design responses to the environments specific needs while “trying to do more with less” to more appropriately and efficiently promote sustainable design. Form also does not just follow function, it follows evolution. Examples of form adapting from evolution would be the way that nature uses photosynthesis to create food from sunlight, which is applied to buildings to support energy generation using photovoltaic panels. Similarly, the ideas of filtering water and self-produced oxygen follow similar principles.

His career development and success comes largely from the rise of a few specific buildings which lead to a spike in his reputation even during their builds. The first one being VIA 57 West which is located in New York. It is a combination of a “European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high rise”. While appearing like a pyramid from a certain angle, it turns into a phenomenal spire from another. The construction of this building gave way to a large reputation boost as the building stands out on the border of the city. Even during its construction it was a sight to behold. Soon after the construction of VIA 57 West, Ingles was commissioned to design another high riser in New York named the Two World Trade Centre in 2015.

His largest successes include the design and the implementation of the Amagger Baker energy to waste power plant which is a technological advancement. The power plants construction started in 2013 and replaced the formed power plant, burning waste from 500 000–700 000 inheritance and 46 000 companies in and around Copenhagen. A multipurpose landmark and leisure facility, coming equipped with a ski slope, rooftop hiking trail, bike path and a rock climbing wall. It is the world’s most efficient waste-burning and electricity generating plant in the world. A few other famous buildings worth mentioning would be The National Maritime Museum which is a response to a brief to build a museum inside an abandoned dry dock, Mountain Dwellings and the very large project of improving manhattans flood resistance.

A look into the architectural style seen throughout Ingles works suggests clean, smooth, geometric and bold elements. The style moves between modern to deconstructive, the progression approaches international trends, but remains evolving. Ingles does not subscribe to a specific style, but a compilation of assorted designs through experience with all the above styles.

Ingles is revolutionising the world of architecture by stepping it up to the next level. Ingles is prone to taking on large, impressive ideas and integrating them into his work and started to gain attention for their bold takes on otherwise ordinary projects. By incorporating ideas into buildings to make them multifunctional like adding ski slopes to the top of a building, or incorporating technologies not seen anywhere else in the world. Ingles is impacting the architectural field by being one of the largest influences in the younger generation of architects, promotion of green design and incorporation of new technologies which in return will cause a large shift in how the social environment will develop.

During his career he has won numerous competitions and has held lectures and speeches world wide / internationally. Some of his largest awards include the best building in Scandinavia awarded in 2006 & 2008, ULI Award for excellence, and architectural innovator of the year. He started earning awards directly after receiving his diploma and used those as a platform to form his current reputation base.

Ingles has an aggressive approach to architecture, the capabilities of presentation, persuasion and self-promotions are strengths and have been very efficiently integrated into Ingles projects and have drawn the admiration of the practice’s followers. The firm has a few underlying goals and values on a few serious issues / challenges our world is currently facing, such as global warming, community living and development of the world’s youth.

Ingles has been described as an individual from the more modern generation of architects which have a need to combine and analyse fun, playful, exploration, and humour. A couple of quotes than can define the type of architect he is could be: “Buildings should respond to the local environment and climate in a sort of conversation to make it habitable for human life”. “Cities and buildings fit the way we want to live our lives.” Ingles sees a world like Minecraft and wishes to shape it into what we can try imagine to be a perfect form or network.

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