Bjarke Ingels – BIG on Architecture: “It should be like the documentary version of Inception” – Netflix Documentary
Danish Architect, Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative partner of BIG, has been featured on the first episode of the highly anticipated Netflix Documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design. In this episode, Ingels has explained the role of BIG’s vision and “yes is more” philosophy in transforming the public’s perception of architecture.
In the episode which was filmed prior to the launching of his Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2016, Ingles says on architecture “It should be like the documentary version of Inception,” referring to the famous Sci-Fi movie released in 2010. “The whole premise of Inception is that, in real life, you can’t really realize your dreams because you have so many constraints, but whereas in the dream world they could do all these kind of things,” he continues. “When architecture is at its best that’s what you’re doing, you’re coming up with something that is pure fiction.”
Ingels says that BIG’s philosophy, which includes the fantastic element in designs, has changed the public’s mindset of what is possible. “Copenhageners got used to more crazy ideas so that, when we presented the idea of putting a ski slope on the roof of a power plant, I think it was an environment that we had already influenced a little bit over the last decade, so that it was receptive to that kind of thinking,” he says in reference to the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant designed by BIG. Ingels had raised a campaign, in 2015, to crowdfund the development of a chimney that blows smoke rings, for the power plant.
Nonetheless, Ingels admits to the struggle they faced to change the traditional views of some residents of his hometown Copenhagen. “We were definitely seen as being alien in a Danish context, it is a culture were difference or disagreement is almost embarrassing,” he says. “Whenever you talk about architecture and whenever people have opinions about architecture the most typical argument is something is bad because it doesn’t fit in.”
The 42-year-old architect reveals that he was encouraged to divert from tradition during his time as an architecture student in Barcelona. However, he explains that going beyond the ordinary can be double-edged: “If you go beyond indifference you will awaken a response in both extremes, especially in the age of the internet,” he says in reference to public comments, on web articles discussing his works; comments that amount to harsh criticism. However, Ingels has shown disregard to online criticism, describing it as invalid. “If you read comments on blogs as if they are valid criticisms then you’re going to have a very rough time. I really grew a thick skin,” he says. “What changes over time is the naivety fades away, but it is replaced by another kind of confidence that will make you better at seizing the moment and grasping what is important,” he adds.