Bjarke Bundgaard Ingels born 2 October (1974) is a Danish architect, founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), widely known for buildings that defy convention while incorporating sustainable development principles and bold sociological concepts.
In Denmark, Ingels became well known after designing two housing complexes in Ørestad: VM Houses and Mountain Dwellings. In 2006 he founded Bjarke Ingels Group, which grew to a staff of 400 by 2015, with noted projects including the 8 House housing complex, VIA 57 West in Manhattan, the Google North Bayshore headquarters (co-designed with Thomas Heatherwick), the Superkilen park, and the Amager Resource Center (ARC) waste-to-energy plant — the latter which incorporates both a ski slope and climbing wall on the building exterior.
Since 2009, Ingels has won numerous architectural competitions. He moved to New York City in 2012, where in addition to the VIA 57 West, BIG won a design contest after Hurricane Sandy for improving Manhattan’s flood resistance, and are now designing the new Two World Trade Center building. Ingels and his company are the subjects of the 2017 documentary BIG Time.
In 2011, the Wall Street Journal named Ingels Innovator of the Year for architecture. and in 2016 Time Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People.
From 1998 to 2001, Ingels worked for Rem Koolhaas at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam. In 2001, he returned to Copenhagen to set up the architectural practice PLOT together with Belgian OMA colleague Julien de Smedt. The company received national and international attention for their inventive designs. They were awarded a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2004 for a proposal for a new music house for Stavanger, Norway.
PLOT completed a 2,500 m2 (27,000 sq. ft) series of five open-air swimming pools, Islands Brygge Harbour Bath, on the Copenhagen Harbourfront with special facilities for children in 2003. They also completed Maritime Youth House, a sailing club and a youth house at Sundby Harbour, Copenhagen.
The first major achievement for PLOT was the award-winning VM Houses in Ørestad, Copenhagen, in 2005. Inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation concept, they designed two residential blocks, in the shape of the letters V and M (as seen from the sky); the M House with 95 units, was completed in 2004, and the V House, with 114 units, in 2005. The design places a strong emphasis on daylight, privacy and views. Rather than looking over the neighbouring building, all of the apartments have diagonal views of the surrounding fields. Corridors are short and bright, rather like open bullet holes through the building. There are some 80 different types of apartment in the complex, adaptable to individual needs. The building garnered Ingels and Smedt the Forum AID Award for the best building in Scandinavia in 2006. Ingels lived in the complex until 2008 when he moved into the adjacent Mountain Dwellings.
After PLOT was disbanded at the end of 2005, in January 2006 Ingels made Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) its own company. It grew to 400 employees by 2016.
BIG began working on the 25-metre-high (82 ft) Mountain Dwellings on the VM houses site in the Ørestad district of Copenhagen, combining 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft) of housing with 20,000 m2 (220,000 sq ft) of parking and parking space, with a mountain theme throughout the building. The apartments scale the diagonally sloping roof of the parking garage, from street level to 11th floor, creating an artificial, south facing ‘mountainside’ where each apartment has a terrace measuring around 93 m2 (1,000 sq ft). The parking garage contains spots for 480 cars. The space has up to 16-metre-high (52 ft) ceilings, and the underside of each level of apartments is covered in aluminium painted in a distinctive colour scheme of psychedelic hues which, as a tribute to Danish 1960s and ’70s furniture designer Verner Panton, are all exact matches of the colours he used in his designs. The colours move, symbolically, from green for the earth over yellow, orange, dark orange, hot pink, purple to bright blue for the sky. The northern and western facades of the parking garage depict a 3,000 m2 (32,000 sq ft) photorealistic mural of Himalayan peaks. The parking garage is protected from wind and rain by huge shiny aluminium plates, perforated to let in light and allow for natural ventilation. By controlling the size of the holes, the sheeting was transformed into the giant rasterized image of Mount Everest. Completed in October 2008, it received the World Architecture Festival Housing Award (2008),
Ingels designed a pavilion in the shape of a loop for the Danish World Expo 2010 pavilion in Shanghai. The open-air 3,000 m2 (32,000 sq ft) steel pavilion has a spiral bicycle path, accommodating up to 300 cyclists who experience Danish culture and ideas for sustainable urban development. In the centre, amid a pool of 1 million litres (264,172 gallons) of water, is the Copenhagen statue of The Little Mermaid, paying homage to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
In 2009, Ingels designed the new National Library of Kazakhstan in Astana located to the south of the State Auditorium, said to resemble a “giant metallic doughnut”. BIG and MAD designed the Tilting Building in the Huaxi district of Guiyang, China, an innovative leaning tower with six facades. Other projects included the city hall in Tallinn, Estonia, and the Faroe Islands Education Centre in Torshavn, Faroe Islands. Accommodating some 1,200 students and 300 teachers, the facility has a central open rotunda for meetings between staff and pupils.
In 2010, Fast Company magazine included Ingels in its list of the 100 most creative people in business, mentioning his design of the Danish pavilion. BIG projects became increasingly international, including hotels in Norway, a museum overlooking Mexico City, and converting an oil industry wasteland into a zero-emission resort on Zira Island off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan. The 1,000,000 m2 (11,000,000 sq ft) resort started construction in 2010 and represented the seven mountains of Azerbaijan. It was cited as “one of the world’s largest eco-developments.” The “mountains” were covered with solar panels and provide for residential and commercial space. According to BIG, “The mountains are conceived not only as metaphors but engineered as entire ecosystems, a model for future sustainable urban development”.
BIG designed the Lego House that began construction in 2014 in Billund, Denmark. Ingels said of it, “We felt that if BIG had been created with the single purpose of building only one building, it would be to design the house for Lego.” Designed as a village of interlocking and overlapping buildings and spaces, the house is conceived with identical proportions to the toy bricks, and can be constructed one-for-one in miniature. They also designed the Danish Maritime Museum in Elsinore, Denmark, and a master plan for the new Smithsonian Institution south campus in Washington, D.C. This is part of a 20-year project that will begin in 2016.
Ingels also designed two extensions for his former High School in Hellerup, Denmark — a handball court, and a larger arts and sports extension. The handball court, in homage to the architect’s former math teacher, sports a roof with a curvature that traces the trajectory of a thrown handball.
In 2015, Ingels began working on a new headquarters for Google in Mountain View, California with Thomas Heatherwick, the British designer. Bloomberg Businessweek hailed the design as “The most ambitious project unveiled by Google this year …” in a feature article on the design and its architects. Later that year, BIG was chosen to take up the design of Two World Trade Center, one of the towers replacing the Twin Towers. The work had initially been entrusted to the British firm Foster and Partners.
Ingels was considered for the Hudsons Yard project. In late 2016, the project became official.