Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect, discusses his outlook on the future of architecture by presenting the idea Dof Hedonistic sustainability. His designs combine eminent concepts about setting and environment with remarkably contemporary forms. His varied portfolio consists of a zoo and power plant in Denmark, business buildings in China, museums in France and Utah, a luxury apartment complex in New York with the concept of merging courtyard and sky scrapper, and also the flood-protection infrastructure which again attempts to design a good space for people to enjoy as well as harms the environment to the least. In this Fast Company interview, he claims that a structure “can establish its own language” if you can figure out how to harness environmental factors to generate shapes or patterns. 

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The ‘courtscraper’ is a vivid new presence on the Manhattan skyline_© The Durst Organization/Via West 57

Climate Change | Hedonistic Sustainability

“In general, I think people have gotten used to listening to the word ‘climate’ in the context of climate change, so always as being part of a problem,” Bjarke Ingels tells in urbanNext at the IV International Conference Architecture: Change of Climate in Pamplona, Spain.” For Ingels, the modernist response to climate control was too formulaic in its overarching idealism, which barred any regionalist approach to sustainability. He thinks that people are trying to see if they can return the architecture to respond to the climate. Le Corbusier, in Ingel’s opinion, was a very wise instructor, but he tended to give people the answers rather than giving them the tools to ask the appropriate questions. Ingels believes this is why Le Corbusier had such a significant, if often rather detrimental, influence since what was replicated were the solutions rather than the technique.

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Le Corbusier’s pavilion ‘Tower of the Shadows’ in Chandigarh, India_©

Amager Bakke

Engaging public activities are directly made possible by projects like the Amager Bakke power plant, which has a practical ski slope on top of the facility blowing out clean air, and the Copenhagen Harbor Bath, which offers a safe swimming place in the harbour of Copenhagen, Denmark. He refers to this strategy as “hedonistic sustainability,” in which sustainability becomes the more joyful, the more delightful alternative to what is known currently. According to Ingels, new technologies can be used to develop ground-breaking initiatives that help the environment and access nature in an urbanized society, rather than serving as the environment’s enemy. A power plant and a waste management facility are the two things people would have wanted to avoid fifty years ago. Instead, the architect believes that with the advancement in technology, it is possible to create an architecture that is more comfortable and also good for the environment.

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The Copenhagen Harbor Baths designed by BIG and JDS provide clean water suitable for swimming in the city’s port_©

Hedonistic Sustainability

According to psychological or motivational hedonism, human conduct is influenced by the desire to experience more pleasure and experience less suffering. The term “Hedonistic Sustainability,” initially used in 2011 by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, has since gained traction and inspired a wide range of businesses. The fundamental tenet is that sustainability can and ought to be enjoyable. Hedonistic Sustainability changes the sustainability movement as a whole into something very young, vibrant, and egalitarian. It demonstrates that architecture and design can be both commercially successful and environmentally beneficial. 

When it comes to turning green, people are no longer required to make concessions. Consider for a moment the image that the word “sustainable” now evokes: the idea that people are in some way making concessions and tolerating pain in the name of a higher cause. For instance, they may spend money on an electronic vehicle but secretly know that the performance and speed are being sacrificed. Or, people will purchase ecologically responsible apparel while realizing that there will likely be some sacrifice in design and style. What if, however, one could actually have it all? What if people could improve the environment while also benefiting themselves, their careers, and the economy?

Sustainability Through a Different Lens | Hedonistic Sustainability

Ingels and his firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) are committed to redefining sustainability in the built environment such that its existing connotations of dread or responsibility are eliminated. Sustainable design and clean technology, according to Ingels, can have energizing social benefits. Sustainability was usually addressed in the context of stopping expansion or giving up some of the quality of life that we have now. According to the concept of hedonistic sustainability, it is possible to live sustainably while also improving your quality of life. The architect may have received criticism about his projects that those are only looking good from the outside, but lacks depth. Being in front of the media from very early on in his career the architect also received comments on his excessive use of new technology which hasn’t proved to be reliable yet and breaking the conventional methodologies. But the architect has responded that inventions and evolution are inevitable, the most sensible thing would be to take advantage of this advancement of technology and to use it to its good potential and to be able to give back to the environment.


Big Think. (n.d.). Designing a Hedonistic and Sustainable Future. [online] Available at:

CRC Research. (n.d.). Hedonistic Sustainability. [online] Available at:

LIVSN. (n.d.). Hedonistic Sustainability. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov. 2022].

Journal. (2017). Hedonistic Sustainability: Bjarke Ingels Discusses Designing a New Vernacular in the Face of Climate Change – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at:


Prashanti is an Architect from India, who is currently pursuing her master’s in Design Research in Germany and got lucky to study in the Bauhaus Building. She is a potterhead and plays guitar. She feels excited and blessed to be able to share her stories through RTF.