Architect Bjarke Ingels Explains Why Every Office Should Function Like An Organism

Bjarke Ingels architect designerWikimedia CommonsBjarke Ingels

A national library in Kazakhstan designed like a giant metallic doughnut, an apartment block in the Bahamas with a honeycomb facade that features swimming pools on every balcony, and an 11 million sq. ft. zero-emission resort on an island off the coast of Azerbaijan — these are just some of the many projects that have distinguished Danish architect Bjarke Ingels as one of the most innovative and ambitious designers practicing today.

But it’s not just buildings that Ingels seeks to redefine. He also brings his design philosophy — that architecture should communicate with and evolve in response to changes in the local environment — to the way he manages his design firm, BIG.

In an interview with ArchDaily, Ingels says that rather than sticking to a traditional office hierarchy, BIG is modelled on an organism that adapts to growth and change. “Creating an office,” he says, “is very much an evolutionary process.”

“As the office evolves, your role is constantly changing,” he continues. “Every three months I realise that I can no longer do what I did three months ago. I have to do things differently because the office has evolved and my role in it is constantly evolving.”

Ingels says he consistently creates positions and shifts people around to ensure that each member of his team is doing the job they are best suited for and most interested in performing.

Bjarke Ingels BIG 8 house Ørestad district of Copenhagen, DenmarkWikimedia Commons8 House by Bjarke Ingels Group in the ├śrestad district of Copenhagen, Denmark

“One of the important things about creating an office,” he emphasises, “is that you have the opportunity and the responsibility to create the work environment that you would like to work in.”

If you’re creating your own office, he says, you have a responsibility to set the tone and culture for how your colleagues collaborate and communicate with one another, because this factor can have a significant impact on your final product.

And besides, Ingels adds, “you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your office, so if you don’t enjoy it, it’s going to be hell.”

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