as one of the world’s most prominent current architects, bjarke ingels’ perspective of the world is a unique one. in conversation with sky-frame, we try and understand his point of view. from inside his ‘house ferry’, an old 450-tonne car ferry converted into his family home, there are views across the waterways of copenhagen that look upon the historic buildings on one side and the new on the other, most prominently including his firm’s (BIG) recently completed copenhill, a zero-emission waste-to-energy plant with a ski slope on top. there’s much that surprises when he reflects upon his reality, but what does become obvious in the interview is determination to create a better world in any way possible – or as he diagnoses, it is the reality of a pragmatic utopian.
portrait of bjarke ingels in copenhagen, denmark
(all images courtesy of sky-frame)
‘utopia is the concept of a world that is so perfect as to be entirely impossible. pragmatism takes stock of reality and its conditions, exploring how to handle them. when you combine these two things it sounds like an oxymoron, but it is this very combination that reminds us with every new project: we have a little piece of the world here that we can turn into our own idea of utopia. that is how fiction can become factual,‘ explains bjarke ingels, when considering his outlook on the world and, most importantly, his design philosophy.
if there was one thing that likened bjarke ingels to other scandinavian architects then it is his love of working with views and natural light. this is only enhanced through his family home on the water, which offers an axis for watching the sun rise in the east and set in the west, and sweeping views from south to north on a second axis. cue the sky-frame solution that made these views a reality: ‘in an architect’s ideal world, the indoors and outdoors are separated by as little material as possible. we want the best and clearest glass with the lowest possible iron content. zero colouration. we want as little structure, as few frames, as possible. the windows on our ferry are so transparent that you feel as though you can float right through them,‘ continues the danish architect.
the recently completed copenhill in the background
the transparency of sky-frame’s solutions in his home symbolizes the clear, complete and all-encompassing perspectives needed for his projects. like the brand’s glass, his work’s only limitation is the horizon. they open up the world – and his thoughts – to all adjacent systems. ‘it puts us in touch with the major challenges we face. this way of zooming out, called reframing in psychology and sociology, gives us a view of the bigger picture, the overarching framework. rather than understanding a single building, we want to understand the neighbourhood and the ecosystem in which it exists,‘ details ingels. this reveals how and why his projects always demonstrate such enormous courageousness. just like the recently opened waste-to-energy plant, a typically perceived negative – a power plant – has been transformed into the cleanest of its kind and one that presents a fun, new reality.
like copenhill, by trailblazing and creating an alternative, new options of reality can be achieved. and this is a precedent for his work. bjarke ingels highlights how he and sky-frame share this ongoing pursuit of innovation: ‘by constantly striving for perfection, sky-frame has successfully reduced all minor necessities to invisibility wherever it was able to. the success of a window system lies in its ability to disappear, draw no attention and never be in the way. for architects, a structure consisting entirely of weather protection and insulation and nothing else would be perfection. no other product comes as close to that dream as sky-frame does.‘
despite this braveness, though, there is still a high sense of realism to bjarke ingels. ‘as an architect or designer, you advance a project by criticising everything you have already done until there is nothing left to criticise. of course, you never reach that point. but if you never stop improving and refining your work, you can get remarkably far.‘ it is this ongoing quest that pushes the danish architect into the future. ‘sometimes, people ask me what is next, now that I have achieved everything. they must be joking. we are light years away from our full potential. we just keep edging closer. and we will never achieve perfection, but we can approximate it by pursuing it relentlessly,‘ he concludes.
series: my point of view
interviewee: bjarke ingels
preview episodes: jay osgerby
bjarke ingels group / BIG (228 articles)
dbinstagram (371 articles)
a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.
in ship architecture’s town house in ikegami, the alley garden also serves as the approach to the property, leading to the large first floor with a 4800 mm »
in ship architecture’s town house in ikegami, the alley garden also serves as the approach to the property, leading to the large first floor with a 4800 mm height.
a sculptural void defines the project's volume and expresses influence from the morphology of traditional iranian building types.