The article reviews the talk on Hedonistic Sustainability presented by architect Bjarke Ingels, the founder of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) at the TEDx East Salon show in the year 2011. Ted Talks are a great way of learning about different fields whether it’s architecture or computer science or medical developments

The architect is the most talked about for his revolutionary reforms meeting the modern demands, surpassing the conventional Danish architectural techniques. His designs maintain an effective balance between architecture, art, urbanism, and the natural environment, converting cultural, social, contextual, political, and economic aspects into feasible physical structures. In addition to this, his concern about the influence that climate changes have on buildings and cities reflects in his designs.

“Buildings should respond to the local environment and climate in a sort of conversation to make it habitable for human life.” – architect Bjarke Ingels

TED talk for Architects: Bjarke Ingels - Hedonistic Sustainability - Sheet1
Bjarke Ingels_ ©

The following section of the article explains his approach to sustainability.

What is Hedonistic Sustainability?

Hedonistic Sustainability was a term coined by architect Bjarke Ingels himself in the year 2011, greatly influencing and changing the perspective of people who viewed sustainability as something that limited growth, which can be achieved only by sacrificing the present quality of life of people. As for Ingels, he believes the contrary and treats sustainability as a tool to improve the quality of life. The term Hedonistic Sustainability can be understood from its literal meaning- hedonism meaning ‘pursuit of pleasure’, depicting the basic idea that sustainability should be pleasurable. The architect refers to the modernist approach in architecture as being universal that appeared the same in any context, avoiding the regionalist approach to sustainability. Rather than using the new technologies in buildings to regulate their own internal environment, disregarding the natural climate, it can be used to create unique functions and programs beneficial both to the environment and in the provision of access to nature in this urbanized world. By doing so, Bjarke Ingels believes in utilizing advanced technologies and sustainable design solutions, making the concept of sustainability fun and joyful for the people, and incorporating public programs for social interaction with a climate-conscious design. Believing in architecture that makes sure our cities and buildings complement and fit in with each other in the way of the future envisionment of human lives, the projects of BIG serve as perfect examples of the concept of hedonistic sustainability.

The talk show opens discussions on this concept by beginning to present the idea of sustainability that was discussed at the United Nations Conference at Copenhagen (COP-15) for climate change, referring to the amount of sacrifice to be made from the present lives of people to meet the needs of the future generations. Opposing the current protestant perspective of sustainability, Ingels stresses the need to have sustainability designed rather than seeing it as a moral sacrifice.

TED talk for Architects: Bjarke Ingels - Hedonistic Sustainability - Sheet2
COP 15 Copenhagen UN conference_ ©

Throughout the talk, the architect tried to promote the idea of leading a sustainable life which could be more fun compared to normal life by presenting some of the projects done by the Bjarke Ingels Group in different corners of the world. These projects ranged from buildings to master planning focusing on both environmental and social sustainability. Beginning to address the audience with the design of the Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, the architect continued to elaborate on the different enhanced sustainability concepts used in his designs – an amalgamation of public participation and energy-efficient strategies, offering its generosity towards the city.

The Danish Pavilion in particular is interesting as it can be regarded as an effort to present a working model of the concept of hedonistic sustainability put forward by Ingels. Being energy efficient, the pavilion showcases the sustainable lifestyle of Copenhagen city and enables the visitors to gain first-hand experience of hedonistic sustainability, encouraging people to practice and move towards such a lifestyle. Every design of sustainability followed in his projects catered to the local climatic conditions and the site context producing varied and innovative concepts with the positive and adequate use of technology.

TED talk for Architects: Bjarke Ingels - Hedonistic Sustainability - Sheet3
The Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo_ ©

The talk holds great potential to inspire architects and planners to change their views about sustainability, encouraging them to not just limit their ideas and designs to the buildings but rather to become ‘designers of an ecosystem’ as described by Ingels, channelling the flow of resources along with people. It is time to stop looking at humans as destructive to this ecosystem but to integrate their presence into it.  Living in a world adversely and constantly affected by global climate change, it has become increasingly important to adopt hedonistic sustainability measures. Bjarke Ingels, through his designs, truly inspires architects and planners across the world with the degree of impact every project of his creates. 


  1. CRC Research. n.d. Hedonistic Sustainability. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022].
  2. Architizer. n.d. Hedonistic Sustainability: Bjarke Ingels Discusses Designing a New Vernacular in the Face of Climate Change – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022].
  3. Famous Architects. n.d. Bjarke Ingels Architect | Biography, Buildings, Projects and Facts. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022].
  4. 2011. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022]

An architecture student who believes that any space can be turned into a lively environment only when it caters to its user’s needs and is extremely passionate about walking the cities on its journey in becoming sustainable and inclusive for its people.