By Helen Russell
One of the biggest exports to come out of Denmark in recent years is a bestubbled 40-year-old with razor-sharp cheekbones and a creative brain that just won’t quit. Bjarke Ingels is a “starchitect” with a proclivity for Instagram selfies and a passionate commitment to the environment. Famous for his imaginative, eco-friendly and fabulously photogenic projects, he’s been making waves in the world of architecture and design for the past decade. His 2009 TED talk has been viewed almost two million times and has been translated into 28 languages. He is, to put it plainly, kind of a big deal.
“Historically, the field of architecture has been dominated by two opposing extremes,” Ingels has said: “on one side an avant-garde full of crazy ideas…on the other side there are well-organized corporate consultants. We believe that there is a third way.” To explore this third way, he set up the Bjarke Ingels Group – aptly dubbed BIG – in 2006 and the firm now operates out of New York and his native Copenhagen. BIG has blazed a trail for blue-sky-thinkers everywhere, developing a reputation for innovative, ground-breaking projects including Google's new futuristic greenhouse HQ in California and Copenhagen’s Amager Resource Centre, a waste-to-energy incinerator that will double up as a year-round ski slope. Denmark is justly proud of BIG’s architectural revolution and Ingels is a source of inspiration to creative Danes.