Bjarke Ingels: Famous Buildings and His Design Philosophy

Bjarke recounts being questioned about the reason architecture has become so boring, and how the past had so much more to offer. We all wonder why heavy ornamentations, arches, gargoyles, and so on, are all now reduced to a box, and so did he.

Bjarke Ingels is a Danish architect and founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group. His passion for the fusion of technology and wild ideas breaks the monotony of most built spaces of today. 

Bjarke Ingels Group

The rise of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) coincided with the environmental movement. And they took that opportunity to introduce some important principles in design such as Hedonistic Sustainability that are still in use today. 

BIG builds everything from Museums to 1000-foot skyscrapers. And there was never a time when they felt that they needed to choose a niche. 

Bjarke Ingels’ Signature Style of Architecture

Bjarke’s primary goal is to make wildly fictional ideas into everyday reality. He plays with the idea of architecture and turns his fragments of contextual imagination into buildings.

A weird dream is crystallized into concrete reality

Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke thinks of architecture as “worldcraft”, which he defines as the craft of making our world. He takes knowledge and technology, and instead of letting it limit him, he uses them to create surreal spaces that excite everyone. 

His Philosophy

“Yes is More”

There’s one end of the world travelling to utopian and wild ideas, and the other sticking to the predictable and boring boxes. Bjarke hopes to create an amalgamation of both to take a pragmatic utopian approach to design. 

 Via 57 West is a climate responsive structure
Via 57 West

The first project after BIG migrated to New York City is Via 57 West. He incorporated aspects from Barcelona and Manhattan to create this dynamic masterpiece that’s both climate-responsive and unique. 

Hedonistic Sustainability

Bjarke coined the term ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’ in 2011, and since then, the idea has been widely incorporated throughout the AEC Industry in several ways. 

Hedonistic Sustainability aims to make the idea of sustainability more approachable to everyone. Bjarke’s aim was to prove that design can be made economically profitable and environmentally sustainable. 

Bjarke urges people to stop thinking about buildings as masses or structures, but instead as ecosystems that we thrive in. 

Copenhill is a carbon-neutral waste to energy conversion plant that incorporates a ski slope in the roof

Copenhill is a waste-to-energy conversion plant in Copenhagen. Bjarke had fun with the design as he incorporated a ski slope in the roof with CO2 emitting from the Chimney. The green panel mimicked the feel of snow and the building also managed to successfully reach its carbon-neutral goal. 

Vertical Suburbia

Bjarke’s larger-scale residential projects all have the same principles in common- spark harmony between integration, accessibility, users, and the community. 

He realized that everybody living in a large apartment has different lives and unique interests. So it didn’t make sense for everyone to live in the same kind of building. 

BIG’s buildings not only hope to create conversational spaces that connect private and public lives, they are also built to reflect their surrounding environment and nature. They incorporate cheap materials in their design to prove that good design doesn't have to be an expensive affair. 

8 house

The 8 house is built to meet the unique needs of its 475 units’ residents. The ‘8’ shape allows for 2 large courtyards, turning the space into a huge community rather than an apartment. It encourages social interaction that is unrestricted to just the ground level and is instead on all levels now.  


Instead of remaining faithful to a single idea, Bjarke urges designers to connect more than one idea together to collectively create what is most desired. 

This new genre of architecture, Bjarke believes, can turn pure fiction into hard facts. Meaning whatever you dream of can be a reality. He takes multiple elements that might not seem to fit together and puts them together.

By making the parking structure levelled and in the form of a mountain, The apartment building is designed to provide good views to all the residential buildings. 

Design Sketches

“Architecture is the canvas for the stories of our lives”

  • Bjarke Ingels
“Architecture is the canvas for the stories of our lives”

Bjarke’s ideation process for every new building they design at the BIG often begins with a meeting with his team and conceptual rough sketches. This interactive session of visual and conversational meeting gets them started with the design process. 

The link below has Bjarke’s idealization of the world and how he believes that architecture is just ‘worldcraft’. He talks us through the thought process of his various projects as he sketches them.

A Youtube Video Published by Future of Storytelling

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Bjarke Ingels: Famous Buildings and His Design Philosophy