relates to Outdoor Space Tops Architect Bjarke Ingels’s Plan to Fix Urban Living

Source: Bjarke Ingels Group

When pandemic stay-at-home orders were implemented in March, people in cities around the world were made prisoners in their own apartments. Residents in many buildings designed by the Danish-born architect Bjarke Ingels found themselves spending time on their balconies.

“One of our first buildings, in Copenhagen, has these very long balconies that are staggered,” Ingels says. There, residents connect with neighbors in a physically distant way. “People were sending me videos of ‘block parties’ where everyone was outside, enjoying the sunset and listening to music—but safely.”

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Bjarke Ingels speaks during a Toyota press event for CES 2020.

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Ingels isn’t the first architect to build a balcony, but he’s made it a motif in his residences, from New York to Taiwan. Incorporating additional outdoor space seems inevitable after the Covid-19 pandemic. And, as the world reassesses offices and urban spaces, Ingels sees an opportunity to fast-track additional ideas and hone the design language he’s been championing for years. “We’ve been spending a big part of Covid—really all of 2020—looking at this,” he says.

It’s not only about outdoor spaces. Ingels wants to change everything. This includes mechanical systems, which he says lag in innovation; facades, which could be more energy-efficient; and the layout of apartments, which are mostly one-size-fits-all. “In the 1950s, there was this kind of fixed idea of a nuclear family, whereas the diversity of households today is massive,” he says. In his eyes, urban homes in the next few decades will reflect a broad spectrum of uses, as well as iterative innovations in technology.

Here are a few ways Ingels intends to improve housing, wellness, and how we live and (try to) work.

Rearranged Living Spaces

relates to Outdoor Space Tops Architect Bjarke Ingels’s Plan to Fix Urban Living

Sluishuis, a forthcoming building by Ingels in Amsterdam.

Source: Bjarke Ingels Group

Traditional apartment layouts simply don’t account for many family formats, Ingels says, including single-parent households, childless households, and co-living arrangements with multiple roommates. “Most of us have, in our lifetime, stayed in a shared flat with other people,” he says, “where we took a bourgeois home from the early 20th century and converted it into something where five young people each had a bedroom and a shared living area. That should be reinterpreted into building designs.”

In the Sluishuis, an Ingels project in Amsterdam, one of the apartment types is called a slice home, which is essentially two apartments with shared rooms in the middle. “It could be for divorced families with children,” he explains. “Depending on whose week it is, you can move the entryway so the children can stay in the same home.”