The BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), a Danish architectural practice, lives true to the motto “Yes is more.” Founded by Bjarke Ingels and a group of architects that want to create programmed utopian architecture that is incorporated into real-world objects. BIG Architects experiment with varied scales and materials for their projects, and they create them such that they appear to be missing jigsaw pieces from the surrounding area. Instead of relying on artificial intelligence, they make sure that the local climate determines the quality of the indoor space offered. Every building they construct has a dynamic, whimsical rhythm. Their building’s USP is that it is layered with glass volumes and roof gardens, sustainable, and relatively economical. They value big-picture thinking, approaching issues head-on, and developing solutions that truly inspire them.

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Bjarke Ingels : Principal architect of BIG_ ©

1. VM House – Copenhagen, Denmark | BIG Projects

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Concept of VM House _©
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aerial view of the structure showing them shaped as V and M_©

The VM Houses, a housing complex with 221 units and 25,000 square metres of area, is situated in Orestad City, Copenhagen, Denmark. Designed by BIG Architects these two apartment complexes known as The VM Houses have the appearance of the letters V and M when seen from above.

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Triangular balconies projecting from the VM structure_©

The placement of the blocks guarantees vistas, seclusion, sunlight, and diagonal views of the neighbouring open fields. The balconies were created so that people could interact with their neighbours while enjoying the outdoors. Like a mosaic, each apartment flat’s distinctive interior adds uniqueness while retaining consistency to the outside of VM Houses.

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VM house overlooking a balconies_©

Buildings in the V and M forms in the plan also benefit from solar orientation, allowing for appropriate solar gain for heating and cross ventilation for cooling. The major purpose of the glass outer walls of the VM Houses is to let natural light into each residence.

2. 79 & Park – Stockholm, Sweden

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79 & Park in its surrounding_©
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79 & Park entrance_©

Designed by BIG Architects, 79&Park is envisioned as a landscape of cascading dwellings that mix the grandeur of a suburban home with the features of urban life. It is located on the border of a garden, a renowned national park.

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_conceptual diagram_©

The northwest and southeast corners are the same height as the surrounding buildings, but the northeast corner has been raised to provide the greatest views of the park and harbour. The southwest corner of the building extends the furthest into the garden and creates a humane edge between the building and nature. It is pushed down to the lowest profile, transforming it into a public platform with a 270-degree view of the park scape. This enables the views of the park from the majority of the residential units.

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_Inner courtyard between the structure_©

The same motion guarantees that the centre courtyard always receives enough sunshine. In additional tribute to Garden, the massing is visually reduced through a pixel language scaled to the human form. This manipulation not only allows for a more organic expression that precisely reflects the surrounding environment but also enables the building topography to be achieved in a regulated and cost-effective manner through the use of prefabricated components of specified proportions. The social intimacy of the central urban oasis provides peace and calm while also offering occupants a sense of connection to the wider 79 & Park community. From afar, 79 & Park looks to be a man-made hillside in the heart of Stockholm.

3. Mountain housing- Copenhagen, Denmark

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Mountain house_©
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Conceptual diagram showcasing the form of Mountain Housing_©

The Mountain Dwellings is a contemporary Danish housing structure. This scheme’s concept consisted of two-thirds parking and one-third residential. Rather than having two distinct structures next to one other – the two roles are combined into a symbiotic partnership. The residential portion was constructed on top of the parking lot. The parking lot joins the street, ensuring that the residences receive adequate sunlight, fresh air, and views. Each apartment features a small garden, a patio, and an L-shaped floor layout.

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Day view of Mountain House_ ©
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Night view of Mountain House_©

Perforated aluminium plates wrap the north and west faces, allowing air and light into the parking area. The holes in the aluminium plates will look black on the bright aluminium during the day The facade will be lighted from the inside at night and will seem like a photo negative in multiple colours since each story in the parking lot has a distinct colour.

4. Via 57 West- New York, USA

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VIA 57_©

VIA 57 West ushers in a new architectural kind to New York City: the Courtscraper. The VIA 57 Courtscraper is a hybrid between the conventional American highrise and the European perimeter block. 

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conceptual diagram of VIA 57_©
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illustrative drawing of VIA 57_©

VIA 57 West not only enhances the beauty of the New York City skyline but also connects its citizens to the outside world. By keeping three of the block’s corners low and rising the northeast portion of the building, the courtyard provides views of the Hudson River and draws the low western sun deep into the block. Even though the courtyard is a sanctuary for residents only and is visible from the outside, it creates a visual connection to the vegetation of Hudson River Park.

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Changing volumes of the courtscraper from different angles_©
Changing volumes of the courtscraper from different angles_©
Changing volumes of the courtscraper from different angles_©

Depending on the viewing position of the spectator, VI’s volume varies. It looks like a distorted pyramid or a hyperbolic paraboloid from the west. The Courtscraper looks to be a thin spire when viewed from the east. The structure reaches 450 feet in the northeast corner, increasing the number of apartments while generously conserving the nearby Helena Tower’s river vistas.

5. Hualien Residences- Taiwan | BIG Projects

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Hualien  Residence_©

The striated vacation house development was created to represent Taiwan’s western mountain spine. The concept aims to maintain and improve the natural beauty of the area while building a dense community of vacation homes that provides inhabitants with an active and sociable lifestyle outside of the city.

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“The Hualien Hills are a pragmatic utopian attempt at rural densification where the ecological qualities of nature aren’t consumed by urban development, but rather extended and amplified,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. The structures’ undulating roofs offer the community a wide range of home types and social spaces on a foundation of effective layouts and logical circulation. The floor plates are divided into thin, green-vegetation-covered landscape strips. The volumes are adjusted to create lush pedestrian canyons and shortcuts between the buildings, as well as to guarantee that light and views penetrate deeply into the houses. 

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Utopian Hualien Residence_©

To reduce glare and heat exposure from the low-angle morning and evening light, the landscape stripes run from east to west. At the pedestrian level, the shape and orientation of the building produce cool, cosy microclimates. Sloping green roofs offer shade, dissipate heat, collect rainwater, and produce clean, breathing air, while the presence of lush flora nearby in the apartments helps occupants relax.

6. 8 house- Copenhagen, Denmark

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Model of 8 House_©
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Conceptual diagram of 8 House _©

8 House provides dwellings for individuals at different phases of life, as well as office space for the city’s commerce and trade. The housing programme of the building includes three types of accommodations: flats of various sizes, penthouses, and townhouses. With a blend of suburban peacefulness and urban dynamism, it also functions as a residence where people can ride their bikes from the bottom floor to the top, passing through townhouses with gardens meandering around an urban boundary block.

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View of 8 house from the river_©
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Conceptual diagram of functions of 8 house_©

The functions of the structure have been distributed horizontally. The flats are located at the top of the building, while the commercial programme is located at the bottom. As a consequence, the residences benefit from natural light, fresh air, and a view, while the commercial areas blend in with street activity.

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View from one of the apartments in 8 house_©

The House features two sloping green roots that are intentionally placed to mitigate the urban heat island effect while also aesthetically connecting it to the nearby farmlands to the south. Through a sequence of deliciously accessible ramps in a mixed-use, multifamily housing building, The 8 House expertly recreates the horizontal social connectedness and interaction of a village neighbourhood’s streets.

7. Dortheavej Residence – Copenhagen, Denmark

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View of Dortheavej Residence_©
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Conceptual diagram of Dortheavej Residence_©

Previously characterized by vehicle repair shops, storage and industrial buildings from the 1930s to the 1950s, Big as commissioned has changed the area into a 5-storey checkered pattern of affordable housing and public space, while preserving the pedestrian pathways open and the surrounding green yard unaltered. They can do the project on a limited budget by utilizing modular construction and prefabricated materials. To blend in, BIG used a simple material palette of light wood and unfinished concrete.

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Winding checkered wall and plaza_©

The architects envisioned the structure as a “winding wall” that would resemble a checkerboard. The structure has a gentle bend in the middle and is designed to be a permeable wall. A street-facing entry plaza is naturally created by the building’s curvature. Three enormous entrances at its base, each the size of a prefab module, provide access to a sizable garden area beyond. The structure opens out at street level, making it easy for locals and visitors to enter the courtyard.

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North elevation _©
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South elevation _©

The stacking gives every second module an additional metre of room height, resulting in extraordinarily enormous kitchen-living spaces and patios that provide a setting for sustainable, healthy living in each 60-115m2 residence. The linear block is curved away from the street to enlarge the sidewalk into a public square on one side and a private green courtyard on the other, with the living rooms opening more towards the courtyard. The flats’ northern face is intended to resemble a pattern of solid and void, while the southern side is fronted by floor-to-ceiling windows and alternate balconies.

8. Honeycomb, Nassau, Bahamas

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view of the Honeycomb north elevation _©

By designing a honeycomb facade for an eight-story residential building, the Albany neighbourhood gains the highest building. The plan was to make the most of the Bahamas’ plentiful natural resources, such as the water and sun.

Honeycomb’s swimming pool _©

The pools are supported by a honeycomb façade that gives them the appearance of sinking into the terrace floor and offers outstanding sight lines while preserving the seclusion of each property. The hexagonal shape, which draws influence from its seaside location, mimics the organic geometries seen in some coral formations or honeycombs.

view of the Honeycomb south elevation _©
view of the Honeycomb’s plaza _©

The building’s extremely dynamic south elevation reflects the asymmetrical construction of the dwellings, which vary in size and join in various ways on the plan. Glass panels on the remaining façade are fragmented, forming terraces all around. The facade design gives the ground-level pavement of the plaza a subtle texture by blending into it. Around the perimeter, several hexagons have been turned into lush mounds filled with trees, plants, and built-in seating. The focal feature of the square is a network of little streams running between the hexagonal pavers and a tiny pond encircled by fountains.

9. Sluishuis- Amsterdam, Netherlands

Sluishuis, with its surrounding and unique geometry_©

The open and airy structure on the outskirts of Amsterdam is always in motion owing to the construction approach. The structure, which has a unique geometry, rises from one corner to draw the water into its stepped courtyard. The buildings appear to float above the water’s surface.

Units hanging above the water _©
block steps down like a cascade of terraced terraces _©

Two factors give the traditional courtyard building new life; it truly embraces the notion of living by the river and looks distinctive from every angle. Units that are suspended above the water have wide windows that open through the sloping façade. Residents can see the boats sailing just below from here. Towards the adjoining urban neighbourhood, the block steps down like a cascade of terraced terraces, offering a seamless transition from metropolitan to smallerscale, natural surroundings.

aluminium exterior reflects the water _©

To ensure that the building’s look will stay rich and natural throughout time, the design team chose natural materials. The abstract, untreated aluminium exterior reflects the water and changes the look of the volume depending on the time of day. The wooden jetty promenade and tiered roof terraces, on the other hand, have a tactile aspect.

10. The Smile | BIG Projects

The Smile_©

The Smile is a mixed-use building with a nursing school on the ground floor and residential apartment units above. One-third of these residential units are affordable housing units, which help to improve and diversify the neighbourhood’s housing stock.

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aluminium exterior reflects the water_©

The “textured surface of the moon,” resembles the building’s façade which alternates between blackened stainless-steel panels and full-height glass windows in a checkerboard pattern. While the outer envelope is made up of blackened rough metal panels, the internal living areas are decorated in a neutral, minimalist style. Interior spaces are made out of raw architectural elements such as wood, exposed concrete structures, and exposed steel trusses.

aluminium exterior reflects the water_©

The Smile’s facade gracefully drapes between the building’s two communities, leaning inward to let sunshine and air reach the street. The T-shaped building’s curved side is set back from the street and dips inwards as it rises to maximise sunshine for the interiors. The structure cantilevers over the existing buildings on 125th Street to the south. When viewed from above, the structure bends upwards like a smile.

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Reference links | BIG Architects

  • VM House
  • 79 & PARK
  • Mountain Housing
  • Via 57 West
  • Hualien Residences
  • 8 house
  • Dortheavej Residence
  • Honeycomb
  • Sluishuis
  • The Smile

Srushti is an aspiring architect who believes that every structure and place contains an underlying story that can be experienced by everyone. She is a modest observer who uses her keen understanding to comprehend the world. This exposition is constantly pushing her in order for her to absorb and learn, unlearn and relearn.