BIG is the architecture group that Bjarke Ingels established in Copenhagen in 2006. He had previously worked at OMA in Rotterdam and this week returns to the city to deliver his ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’ lecture at the Netherlands Art Institute. The lecture itself is actually now sold out, but we invite you to find out about the incredibly optimistic and inspirational work being instigated by Bjarke Ingels by watching this TED video, which was filmed last May in New York.
The premise for BIG is that sustainability has to be a design challenge, and so the team creates projects that are a type of ‘architectural alchemy’ which aim to create added-value to urban existance – for instance, using multi-storey car-parks as a ‘mountain’ atop which apartments can sit with views across the city.
In fact, it turns out that sustainable life can be more fun than normal life, which is seen in the firm’s most ambitious project yet now taking shape in the heart of Copenhagen: a waste-to-energy plant which incorporates a a ski-slope on the roof. Yes, you read that right!
“Integrate and incorporate our consumption patterns”
In the words of Bjarke himself, ‘Architects have to become more than just designers of 2D facades or 3D visual objects to become designers of ecosystems, not only channelling the flow of people throughout buildings but also the flow of resourses – heat, energy, waste and water – into a perpetual motion engine. Stop seeing our presence on earth as detrimental to our ecosystem and actually try to integrate and incorporate our consumption patterns and our leftovers into our natural environment.’
The Copenhagen powerplant project is not just economically and ecologically sustainable – by turning waste into energy – but it is also socially sustainable because it turns a powerplant into a park and turns a flatland into a man-made mountain for skiing.
It also has a knowledge-inducing art project incorporated. Although this will be the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world, the smoke emitted still does contain some CO2. What has been designed is a chimney that actually captures CO2 gradually, and when it contains 100 kg, it compresses it and puffs out a giant smoke ring. A fun aspect that helps the public to keep count of emission levels.
Watch the full film to be inspired!