BIG architects, established in 2005 by Bjarke Ingels, describes architecture as buildings and cities that are a reflection of the future we see for ourselves.The public spaces designed by the firm are pioneers in research creating unique designs for the future of humans and the environment they live in.

What are public spaces? They are an important part of city life, a place where people can come together and interact, helping to create livable and socially sustainable cities.

1.  Aarhus Harbor Bath

Project status: Completed

Aarhus Harbor Bath forms a buoyant artificial island off the coast of Denmark’s largest city in Aarhus. Building upon Jehl Gal’s principle of building more livable cities, less built space is used to invite maximum people into the space. The main feature of the public space is a bath to enjoy waterfront experiences. Swimmers can enjoy a circular pool, a children’s pool, the 50 m long pool, or the sauna tucked under the main public circulation deck that can be used as a viewing platform.

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet1
Aarhus Harbor Bath_©Rasmus Hjortshoj
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet2
Aarhus Harbor Bath_©Rasmus Hjortshoj

The unique feature is that it has a viewing deck and bath area, giving a variety of functions to engage in. The public space has a series of restaurants, children’s theaters, and beach huts. In the future, the plan will include private building blocks, breathing life in an area that was historically used for industrial activity. 

2. Superkilen

Project status: Complete

Superkiln is a mile and a half long urban space built for the most diversified neighborhood in Denmark. The conceptual idea is of an “urban version of a universal garden,” a park that supports diversity that reflects and embraces the characteristics of the neighborhood.

Superkiln is like a communal display of everyday objects that come from 60 different nationalities reflecting and embracing the diversity that it inhabits. It is a world exhibition, manifesting furniture, benches, lamp posts, trash cans, and plants to represent the ethnicities present. Each everyday object is labeled in its native language along with the Danish translation to pay homage to the residents living there. 

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet3
Superkiln_©Iwan Baan
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet4
Superkiln_©Jens Lindhe

The urban space is divided into three zones; red, green and black. Bauman once said that “sport is one of the few institutions in society, where people can still agree on the rules. No matter where you’re from, what you believe in, and which language you speak, you can always play football together.” The complex creates a series of recreational activities for locals to interact and come together with physical activities, using sports as an activity to bind different cultures and ethnicities together. 

Covered in a multi-functional rubber surface, the central market is located on a hockey field that has multi-program usage for ball games, skating rinks, parades, and markets. 

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet5
Superkiln_©Iwan Baan
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet6
Superkiln_©Iwan Baan

3. East Side Resiliency Project:

Project Status: In progress

The East Side Resiliency Project held by the city of New York is a result of the damage caused by hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy bought 14 feet high tides and billions of worth of damage. The East Side is the strongest hit in case of a storm, rainfall, and flooding. The ESCR project is a result of scientific research. The project caters to the expected sea level height through 2050, the projected effects of waves, and the standards for 100-year flood levels set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet7
East Side Resiliency Project_©big.dk

As the threat of global warming increases, the earth gets hotter, and hurricanes and tropical storms are becoming stronger and more frequent in the northeast. The natural geography of the city acts as a funnel channeling the storm right into the city.

The project embraces the idea of a resilient city to create resilient people by providing climate protection from floods and storms for 110,000 residents. Waterfront plays a vital role in how our city adapts to climate change. East River Park will be elevated and rebuilt by adding flood gates, berms, walls, and at grade crossings creating a 2.4 m flood barrier, which is the best practice in resilient landscape design. 

4. St. Peter’s Pier/ The wave

Project status: Idea

BIG’s The Wave is a re-imagination of the historic pier at St.Petersburg. The project has three main stages- Tributary Park, Wave Walk, and The Wave. The concept of the project comes from the natural phase of the water cycle. The architects describe the concept as “the energy of the Wave Walk springs from multiple points in the city, on the waterfront, in the marina and parks – gathers momentum as it enters the bay and finally climaxes in a big wave of public life – populated beneath and on top – within and around.”

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet8
St. Peter’s Pier/The wave_©big.dk

The wave is designed for each level to be correlated with a phase in the water cycle

5. Children’s Maritime Center 

Project status: Completed

The children’s maritime center is a multi-client program. It caters to youth who need outdoor space to play, and a space to park sailboats. The wave-like ramps in the project become opportunities for children to play. An observation deck becomes an interior court. The spaces are curated in such a way that the roof of the indoor spaces acts as a usable space on the outside. 

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet9
Children’s Maritime Centre_©jdsa.eu
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet10
Children’s Maritime Centre_©jdsa.eu

6. Back to Future

Project status: Idea

Back to the future is a reimagination of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan. The iconic structure built in 1883 carried about 425,000 passengers daily, which included people on foot, bikes, carriages, and cable cars. With the increase of automobiles in the 1950s, other modes of public transport were stopped. In recent times it moves about 100,000 passengers daily, thus becoming better at moving cars than people.

The radical change to the iconic bridge is to gradually bring back its past glory for the public aesthetically and functionally. With gradual redistribution and reduction of traffic by adding pedestrian intervention and bicycle lanes, eventually, make the entire bridge a car-free zone with attractive and environmentally friendly transportation. Towards the harbor, a flexible space with activities will make it an inviting space, one that evolves with the change in season and festivals. 

The car ramps connecting to the bridge can be abolished to make way for a 32-acre public space to create natural and recreational activities for New Yorkers, reconnecting neighborhoods and increasing livability and sustainability.

7. Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision

Project status: In progress

Downtown Brooklyn is a multi-faceted 240-acre business district. The 2004 rezoning of downtown has brought about a radical increase in residential population and businesses resulting in a cityscape void of the needs of its primary users- pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. The redevelopment focuses on Willoughby and Schermerhorn Streets for an increase in pedestrian traffic with inviting public spaces that are both environmentally and socially sustainable. The plan for the downtown is meant to be pivotal and as a prime example and inspiration for future downtown designs.

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet11
Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Vision_©inhabitat.com

8. MAG High Square

Project status: Conceptualization in progress

The MAG public square is one of a kind urban space designed on the roof of Magasin du Nord, a large departmental store located in the heart of Denmark. The design of the space is to act as an oasis for visitors that will get to experience the view from the rooftop alongside. Visitors will be exposed to a variety of programs for entertainment, such as outdoor cinema, cycle routes, café, stages, etc. The space on the roof is seen as an extension of the sidewalk and neighboring squares, as the spaces orchestrate to eventually become part of the road.

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet12
MAG High Square_©big.dk
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet13
MAG high square- Concept_©big.dk
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet14
MAG high square- Concept_©big.dk
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet15
MAG high square- Concept_©big.dk
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet16
MAG high square- Concept_©big.dk

9. Skuru Bridge

Project status: Conceptualization in progress

The Skuru Bridge is hoping for a symbiosis between nature and infrastructure. It creates a connection for humans, along with the flora and fauna of the community. The Skuru bridge revolutionizes social infrastructure which is well integrated with the natural landscape and existing bridge. 

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet17
Skuru Bridge_©big.dk
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet18
Skuru Bridge_©big.dk

10. Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 

Project status: Conceptualization in progress

The Brooklyn Park Bridge Pier, also known as the Manta ray,will be located near a future beach according to New York’s Blueway Plan. The shape of the small public platform creating slopes and curves will provide accessibility, shelter with an elevated view of the waterfront. The platform will provide views of not only the waterfront but all of Brooklyn.

BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet19
Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier_©big.dk
BIG- 10 Iconic Public Spaces Projects - Sheet20
Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier_©big.dk
Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier_©big.dk

References:

  1. Big.dk. 2022. BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group. [online] Available at: https://big.dk/#projects
  2. ArchDaily. 2022. Maritime Youth House / PLOT = BIG + JDS. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/11232/maritime-youth-house-plot
  3. ArchDaily. 2022. Superkilen / Topotek 1 + BIG Architects + Superflex. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/286223/superkilen-topotek-1-big-architects-superflex
  4. ArchDaily. 2022. Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 Viewing Platform / BIG. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/430130/big-designs-pier-6-viewing-platform-for-brooklyn-s-waterfront-2> 
  5. Downtown Brooklyn. 2022. Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Action Plan | Downtown Brooklyn. [online] Available at: <https://www.downtownbrooklyn.com/about/big-ideas/public-realm-vision-plan> 
  6. ArchDaily. 2022. Aarhus Harbor Bath / BIG. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/900107/aarhus-harbor-bath-big> [Accessed 5 January 2022].
  7. Cities of the Future, 2021. Future New York – Brooklyn Bridge Renovation by Bjarke Ingels and ARUP. [image] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4fAyade8fE&ab_channel=CitiesoftheFuture> 
  8. 2021. NYC’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. [image] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tdZ6wU5fPk&ab_channel=NYCMayor%27sOffice> 
  9. Basulto, D., 2014. AD Interviews: Bjarke Ingels / BIG. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/477737/ad-interviews-bjarke-ingels-big> 
Author

Zainab Marvi is a struggling architecture student with a love for architectural writing. She is passionate about architectural theory and urban planning. She hopes her failures in architecture school will pay off some day.

Write A Comment