Bjarke Ingels and his Copenhagen-based firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) are redefining sustainable architecture by removing the sense of fear and obligation that comes with the term sustainability.
When you think of the word “sustainability” in terms of architecture, what comes to mind is making some sort of trade-off for the good of the environment. Ingels likes to take a different approach, designing buildings based on the climate.
For example, what he did for a building in Shenzhen, which had a subtropical climate, was maximize views and daylight and minimize thermal exposure and glare. Glass is very common in Shenzhen but it’s actually quite bad in a tropical climate where shade it most needed. He recommended a pleated dress-like facade to block out the sunlight from the south while the north is completely open.
It’s a commonsense idea that helped the building save 30% on air-conditioning, and requiring no use of any sophisticated technology.
Another example that reflects Ingels’ heady brand of design is a recent upcoming project in Toronto, which is a mixed-use building modeled after a mountain range with five different peaks that range from 15 to 17 stories. The building will be broken up into cuboidal modules twisted at 45 degrees allowing for more daylight.
The unique layout will allow for different configurations and sizes of the 514 residential units, which will each have a terrace that provides impressive views of the city and allows trees and other foliage to grow.
The building will not only benefit those who are looking for a residential unit, but also the city. Openings at ground level allow the public to walk through the central courtyard. The space will also be used for public art installations, retail shops, restaurants, festivals, activities, and events.
The building design may undergo more revisions prior to being built, but it’s clear that this building might be the most beautiful Toronto is yet to have.
For Ingels, protecting the environment does not mean saying no to technological advancements. Instead, they can be utilized together to create an urbanized world that still benefits the environment.