- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - A power plant you can ski down, an apartment building you can bike through and an exhibit space that folds up into an arch or a band shell - these are all inventions of the Bjarke Ingels Group (aka BIG), a Copenhagen, Denmark, and New York-based architecture firm known for flaunting convention. Like their buildings, BIG’s retrospective at the National Building Museum doesn’t fit into the usual gallery mold.

“I was mesmerized by the magnitude of this space - the arcades, the giant columns,” says BIG founder Bjarke Ingels of the museum. “We wanted to invade the atrium.”

That’s what they did. Sixty models of BIG projects now hang from the Great Hall’s third-floor balcony as part of “Hot to Cold: an odyssey of architectural adaptation,” which shows how each project’s specific environmental conditions drove BIG’s creativity. (See two models below.) Three galleries showcase completed projects.

Climate plays a major role in guiding BIG’s designs. Take the Shenzhen Energy Headquarters in subtropical China: BIG put a pleated facade on the skyscraper. Opaque glass on the eastern-facing sides of the pleats minimizes sun exposure, while clear glass on the western sides maximizes natural light. That means less energy devoted to air conditioning.

“It’s interesting to work in extreme climates, because it becomes so blatantly about survival,” Ingels says. “The Mediterranean climate is the best in the world, but it’s also the climate where you have the least need for architects.”


Honeycomb Albany Marina Residence

Nassau, Bahamas

(Average temp.: 79 F)

Opening in 2016, the Honeycomb will have 34 3,000-8,000-square-foot apartments, priced from $3 million to $12.5 million. Among the big-name investors: golf stars Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

The facade is free of traditional elements. Each condo forms a cell in the beehive-like exterior.

Balconies provide views and shade.

Each balcony features an aquarium-like private swimming pool fronted with clear acrylic. “So, if you are skinny dipping at night, you need to have a fitness regimen,” Ingels warns.

The honeycomb pattern helps support the weight of the pools.


Greenland National Gallery

Nuuk, Greenland

(Average temp.: 30 F)

At nearly 10,000 square feet, the Greenland National Gallery will be a statement of cultural independence for the country as it moves toward greater autonomy from Denmark. Perfectly circular if seen from above, the gallery follows the slope of a steep cliff.

An outer wall made of concrete protects the museum from the elements and allows it to extend to the water’s edge.

The shape of the building pays homage to traditional Greenlandic huts, which are round in order to provide the most space with the least amount of surface area, minimizing heat loss.

A glass inner ring maximizes daylight for artists’ studios and exhibits.

The building’s contours block the view of government housing to the east. “You get this beautifully framed view of the fjord,” Ingels says. “Essentially, you get this oasis where everything Greenlandic is present and all of the ugly Danish housing is eliminated from the view.”


Information from: The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com

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