Designs that Solve problems

“If people don’t love or hate your work, you just haven’t done all that much”- Tinker Fielder

Bjarke Ingels - By Epizentrum - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0  Link

Bjarke Ingels – By Epizentrum – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 Link

Brilliance is by default unique and different. Hence it more than often draws the ire of gurus. Perhaps, Bjarke Ingels’ work is no different. To some, his work is pure creation and magic but to others, his work is outright banal and cheap. It has been claimed that he does cheap projects only for the developers’ satisfaction. Moreover, his commitment to so many, and different, projects doesn’t help his case either. Critics argue that a man simply cannot do everything without repetition or compromising of the vision. So, his work met with severe skepticism and hate back at home when he first started out. His obsession with incorporating everything didn’t sit well with the critics either. Critics pointed out that Ingels seems to be selling a bit too much; more like science fiction.

Ingels actually relates his work with that of dreams, since dreams are not bound by reality.

For him, architecture is nothing short of pure creation which, with the right vision and effort, can be put concrete reality and it is amazing how he manages to bring seemingly mutually exclusive concepts together, effortlessly. While critics call his work provocative and outrageous, the very fact is that all his designs are geared towards a particular problem or potential. His design decisions are never arbitrary stylistic choices. A perfect example would be the City Block project on the waterfront of Manhattan.

VIA 57 West, Manhattan - By Razvan Dinu - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,  Link

VIA 57 West, Manhattan – By Razvan Dinu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Ingels design philosophy revolves around the notion that people should be able to see architecture corresponding to their own environment. He has even gone on to compare this style with the world-famous computer game Minecraft where the idea is that users can build entire worlds in the game according to their own liking. One can safely presume that Ingels doesn’t shy away from the idea of hybrid architecture, he in fact encourages it, and has employed it himself by combining high-rise buildings with garden homes in his housing complexes.

The Mountain - Apartments over parking plaza

The Mountain – Apartments over parking plaza

Ingels ever-expanding presence implies that he seems to be doing something right, which the critics have failed to figure out. He brought the Danish architecture out of dormancy with his innovative ideas which are now widely recognized due to the uniqueness of the designs in everything he touched.

Ingels work is a proof that architecture is more than just the buildings. He manages to deliver revolutionary work without forgetting the traditions. It is because of this very reason that his design philosophy is being rapidly adapted by a generation of young architects.

Many architects today drive their focus on whether to go after the essence of their idea or look at numerous contingencies such as budget limitations, use of the building, and views of the neighboring structures. But Ingels doesn’t focus on essence. He does not separate contingencies from his architecture and that is what makes him stand out. He has come under the fire for a number of things; of self-promotion and of accepting any commission that is sent his way.

But if there is one thing that Ingels should be charged guilty of, it is his unwavering will to make things and it is his success in achieving this feat is what makes him an object of envy to his contemporaries. His approach is zen-like and it shows in his designs. His design philosophy states that one can come up with an interesting concept if one is receptive, observant and willing to understand the conditions.

Although Ingels claims to not have a trademark architectural style but if we look at Via 57 West, a quintessential Ingels design, we can see that his designs always have a feeling of sustainable self-indulgence, a reflection of his Danish housing complexes with their diagonal boxes opening in green spaces. The life of his structures translates into something which is both pleasure-filled and meticulous.

Copenhill - A Power Plant with Ski Park at rooftop

Copenhill – A Power Plant with Ski Park at rooftop

Copenhill project is perhaps the best realization of his pragmatic utopia, as he calls it. The way Ingels managed to turn the power plant into a complete man-made ecosystem with non-toxic smoke is just fascinating. It was his design paradigm that changed the perception of how locals viewed the power plant. And he didn’t stop just there. This wild design defied nature itself when it integrated a 600-meter ski slope to the structure. So now even if there are no mountains in Copenhagen, the Danish can still make the most of the snow in their country because of this ski slope. Something that was once a symbol of pollution, Ingels quite effortlessly converted into something playful and novel.

Perhaps, critics were not wrong about calling Ingels work a science-fiction, after all.

Reference: Abstract The Art of Design - Netflix Series
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