Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and the company he runs, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has offices in Copenhagen, New York, and London. He's currently involved in projects throughout Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2016, the company unveiled Via 57 West, a high-rise building in Midtown Manhattan with a 22,000-square-foot courtyard at its center. The building, which looks triangular from certain angles and like a pyramid from others, was lauded by architecture critics. We caught up with Mr. Ingels, 43, to discuss the social and environmental impact of real estate development, the difference between building a residential building and a cultural institution, and more.
Mansion Global: How did you become interested in architecture?
Bjarke Ingels: I wanted to be a graphic novelist. I’d been drawing all my life. But there was no cartoon academy, so I thought I could hone my skills at drawing landscapes and buildings instead [he went to the Royal Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen and Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona]. Then, I got bitten by the architecture bug.
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MG: Who are your professional mentors?
BI: I worked with Rem Koolhaas in Holland, who introduced to me this notion that architecture can be part of a political, economic, and social event.
I had a professor, Jens Thomas Arnfred, who’s a Danish architect who has done a lot of co-housing. He taught that architecture is always about the social element and about creating a framework for how you want to live.
There’s also Jørn Utzon, who’s the architect behind the Sydney Opera House. He’s a master at bringing Chinese pagodas and Aztec temples into a contemporary context.