A B.I.G. Danish Architectural Controversy

April 9th, 2011



Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) Architects, formed by the young Dane with the same name, has sparked conversation in the Architectural community worldwide. Many question whether his designs foster a desired sense of community, whether they address their context enough, taking climate, demographics and holistic sustainability into consideration. (This is an architect that took a design for Scandinavia and put it in the desert of Abu Dhabi.) The other side of the controversy claims that his rebellious differences are just what the world needs to gain interest in architecture, recognize its importance and make a drastic change towards social and environmental sustainability.

Two question-causing housing projects are the VM Mountain and 8-Tallet located outside of Copenhagen. The VM Mountain design offers a green space for each residence, but the entire structure is founded on a parking structure and access to the apartments is granted solely via this hidden structure, limiting interaction between neighbors. This brings me to question why a residence would literally be based on an automobile parking structure when its site is located conveniently at a Copenhagen metro stop and there is a nation-wide movement to get 50% of the population to commute by bicycle by next year. Also, it is located in a developing, yet fairly isolated location outside of the central city where fostering community and promoting resident interaction would seem to be of importance to the success of the area. Although this portion of the city has significant access to public transportation into the Copenhagen central, it is currently thought of as a site of experimental architecture, exemplifying space uninhabited. The area of the city meant to be bustling with new life, is now quite the opposite. Is this the fault of self-glorifying architecture?

Ignoring all social impetus, Bjarke Ingels Group designs are just plain cool. The first photo above is a recent design for an ice rink in Sweden, the second is the Astana National Library and the third is the right photo shows the discussed VM Mountain housing project Comments to continue the debate encouraged.

Anne Klemm for Danish Teak Classics

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