Not literally, of course – I’ve never met him! But, I have seen a documentary film about his life – The Big Time – and it was inspirational.
For those that don’t know, Bjarke is the Danish architect who designed a waste to energy plant with a ski run on it’s roof – and he made the chimney emit smoke rings. One of the things that particularly impressed me about this project was his approach to the commission. In the film it showed his colleague pointing out that the client might be put off by higher insurance costs and paying more for things that were not purely functional. Bjarke’s response was that the key to getting agreement was to avoid taking a position where the answer could be ‘no’. (I think this is a brilliant tactic in many life situations!)
Urban Ski Slope Copenhill Doubles As A Super Green Waste To Energy Power Plant In Copenhagen
This is clearly part of his genius. He has a hugely bold and creative vision but, even more importantly, he knows how to make it happen.
Another example of this was his approach to pitching for the Maritime Museum in Denmark. The brief was for the Museum to be built in a dry dock box area below ground level, so that it didn’t obstruct the view to the castle. Did he stick to what he was asked to do? No. His design was for the museum to be around the dry dock, but not actually in it. It was all still below the ground with the central space of the dock being used for letting in light and a criss cross of stairs and passages. It looks so exciting. Of course he won the pitch. Then his competitors cried ‘foul’ saying that they had done what was asked and he hadn’t. They even started legal proceedings – but he won the day.
The film then showed Bjarke reaching the milestone of 40 and moving to New York – he’s working on designs for Ground Zero. His starting point was to look at the island of Manhattan with Central Park in the middle and create something similar with his building. It’s a skyscraper with a park at the centre.
Moving the Big Apple wasn’t without its set backs though. Bjarke revealed that he’d been hit on the head with a baseball bat and he went through a series of tests to find out if the resulting headaches and tiredness were symptoms of something more serious. Thankfully, he seems to have been given the all clear.
Another issue for him was that although he clearly has some talented individuals in the Danish offices of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), they weren’t as good at getting the business in, without their key player. And, this was affecting the bottom line.
Clearly the film was chiefly about his work, but it included personal elements as well, with footage of his childhood homes and interviews with his parents. But Bjarke is an attractive man and I was wondering about his love life. Thankfully, at the end of the film, we were shown that he’s met the woman of his dreams and he was about to get married.
How wonderful to have discovered this visionary man. Unless the next baseball bat is more serious than the first, we should have many more years of bold and exciting designs created by Bjarke.
NOTE: I saw The Big Time documentary at IDFA – the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam – a couple of weeks ago. My middle son is studying at the Design Academy in Eindhoven and he took us along. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the film on the web, so if anyone reading this does – please add a link in Comments.