‘Architecture is like a sort of gentleman’s sport where you only really get to do it when you’re old,” says Bjarke Ingels, chomping into a cheese-and-ham croissant outside a café in London‘s Kensington. “There’s this catch-22 that you can’t do it till you’ve proven yourself, but you can’t prove yourself till you get the chance to do it.”
Ingels got the chance to prove himself early on and he’s run with it. Not that he’s exactly un-gentlemanly. He could have stepped out of a menswear catalogue: dark, handsome, strapping Danish physique clad in fashionable monochrome. But he’s still a few months away from turning 40 – practically a teenager in architect years. His career to date has been marked by a succession of fresh, inventive, attention-grabbing projects of the kind most young architects would expect to wait another few decades to get a crack at, and many older ones doubtless wish they’d thought of. If any designer out there represents a generational shift in the discipline, it’s Ingels.
The name of his company is BIG, which he’s happy for others to interpret as more than just an acronym for Bjarke Ingels Group. His work is characterised by big ideas, big gestures and, increasingly, big scale and big ambition.