OUR WINTER 2018 ISSUE, FEATURING COVER STAR LIEV SCHREIBER, IS OUT NOW.
Earlier this fall, we celebrated the launch of the latest Sharp: The Book for Men under a towering temporary structure assembled on Toronto’s King Street West. The venue, fluorescent lit and mesmerizing, was called Unzipped —a reconstruction of the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’s 2016 Serpentine Pavilion installation. Toronto was the first stop on its world tour.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about Ingels a lot. The architect has made a name for himself as the mastermind behind geometric buildings that look almost like Lego sets blown up to a life-sized scale. That is, they’re buildings that embody the pure fun of construction — unbridled creativity spewing upward in three glorious dimensions. (It’s little wonder that Lego itself asked Ingels to design their new headquarters in Billund, Denmark, a building that opened last year and puts that big-kid approach to design to the ultimate test.)
You can see this in many of Ingels’s projects. Take, for example, his trapezoidal 57 West in Manhattan, which aims to maximize light and outdoor space in a city where residential units often lack both; or the clean power plant he designed in Copenhagen that’s topped with a 2,000-foot ski run; or, of course, his permanent plan for Toronto’s King West: a mountainous pile of terraced condo blocks reminiscent of Moshe Safde’s iconic Habitat 67.
What I love about Ingels and his work isn’t just the attention he pays to making exciting, livable spaces. It’s the overwhelming sense of optimism in his design philosophy — his very evident belief that if you just use the materials at hand in the right way, you can assemble a better, friendlier, more human world.
Our managing editor, Eric Mutrie, sat down with the Danish architect for this issue’s A Man Worth Listening To column, and the interview has stuck with me. In it, Ingels discusses his design thinking, his passion for the built environment, and his very palpable reasons for being excited about the future.
That’s not a small thing. It isn’t an easy moment to be so optimistic — and I probably don’t need to expend extra column inches telling you why. People like Ingels, who are making tangible good on their rose-tinted worldview, matter now more than ever. By acting like a big kid playing with a pile of Lego, Ingels reminds us how exciting the world can be. And he’s proof that if you put the right blocks together in the right order, one at a time, we can build the future we want to live in.