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Abstract

Contemporary architects highlight past ideas and present new manifestos often perceived as utopian. Bjarke Ingels introduced hedonistic sustainability in response to the demand for environmentally friendly and sustainable living through different perspectives. This paper comprehensively explains the concept of hedonistic sustainability through the designs of Bjarke Ingels, a contemporary architect. Literature from various sources is examined to describe Bjarke Ingels' idea. Hedonistic sustainability combines sustainable ideas, fun, and community. Bjarke Ingels's architectural design is applied through simulation and an ironic approach. Its representation facilitates the exploration of the design objects planned concretely. The idea of playful and communality was raised through the design that accommodates various user activities. Bjarke Ingels's idea is expected to contribute to the knowledge and contemporary architecture design process in Indonesia. © 2020 Nita Dwi Estika, Yudhistira Kusuma, Dewi Retno Prameswari, Iwan Sudradjat
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Research paper doi: 10.30822/arteks.v5i3.487
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339
The hedonistic sustainability concept in the works of Bjarke Ingels
Nita Dwi Estika1* , Yudhistira Kusuma2, Dewi Retno Prameswari3,
Iwan Sudradjat1
1 History, Theory, and Criticism in Architecture Research Group, School of Architecture,
Planning, and Policy Development (SAPPD), Institut Teknologi Bandung, Jl. Ganesha, no.
10, Bandung, Indonesia
2 Architectural Planning Research Group, Department of Architectural Education,
Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, Jl. Dr. Setiabudhi, no. 229, Bandung, Indonesia
3 School of Architecture, Planning, and Policy Development (SAPPD), Institut Teknologi
Bandung, Jl. Ganesha, no. 10, Bandung, Indonesia
ARTICLE INFO
ABSTRACT
Article history:
Received April 29, 2020
Received in revised form May 12, 2020
Accepted July 26, 2020
Available online December 01, 2020
Contemporary architects highlight past ideas and present new
manifestos often perceived as utopian. Bjarke Ingels introduced
hedonistic sustainability in response to the demand for
environmentally friendly and sustainable living through different
perspectives. This paper comprehensively explains the concept of
hedonistic sustainability through the designs of Bjarke Ingels, a
contemporary architect. Literature from various sources is examined
to describe Bjarke Ingels' idea. Hedonistic sustainability combines
sustainable ideas, fun, and community. Bjarke Ingels's architectural
design is applied through simulation and an ironic approach. Its
representation facilitates the exploration of the design objects
planned concretely. The idea of playful and communality was raised
through the design that accommodates various user activities. Bjarke
Ingels's idea is expected to contribute to the knowledge and
contemporary architecture design process in Indonesia.
Keywords:
Bjarke Ingels
Contemporary
Hedonistic sustainability
Manifesto
*Corresponding author: Nita Dwi Estika
History, Theory, and Criticism in Architecture
Research Group, SAPPD, Institut Teknologi
Bandung, Indonesia
Email: nitaestika@ar.itb.ac.id
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2117-
482X
Introduction
Architects become famous in other media because
of their manifesto. A good manifesto combines a
bit of terror, emotion, the prestige of capabilities,
and utilizes rhetorical tools such as rhymes, word
plays, and jokes. Jencks and Kropf (1997)
grouped manifestos into five time periods,
including, Post-Modern, Post-Modern Ecology,
Traditional, Late Modern, and New Modern
(Jencks 1997).
The appearance of Rem Koolhaas in 1994
with the manifesto of Bigness made him a new
modern figure. The Manifesto Bigness represents
what architecture can do at its maximum point.
However, it is also a challenge since it may
highlight the main weaknesses of the architecture
(Jencks 1997). Rem Koolhaas, a founding partner
of the OMA (Office for Metropolitan
Architecture), was assisted by an apprentice
named Bjarke Ingels in 1998. Manifesto Bigness
Koolhaas inspired Ingels to be one of the
innovative, ambitious, creative, and most famous
contemporary architects of the younger
generation. This success is also attributed to skills
in using various platforms, including social
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media. Ingels won many awards because of the
ability to produce innovative architectural works
and international reputation (Sagdıc 2016).
Bjarke Ingels founded the Bjarke Ingels
Group (BIG) in 2005, which is known by the
manifesto Yes is More, a theory of evolution
(Bjarke Ingels Group 2009). This manifesto was
founded on the abstraction from the thoughts of
naturalist Charles Darwin and philosophers
Friederich Nietzsche (Møller 2013). "Yes is
More" by Ingels was juxtaposed with six other
legendary architectural manifestos, including
Vitruvius, Le Corbusier, Steen Eiler Rasmussen,
Aldo Rossi, Roberto Venturi, and Rem Koolhaas
(Arcspace 2014). Stable manifestos can become a
theory, which is a discourse that explains the
practice of architectural production along with a
description of its challenges (Jencks 1997; Nesbitt
1996). The manifestos stated by architects can be
categorized into groups of theories to form the
architecture theory (Sudradjat 1997). The theory
represents how architects develop and use
principles, knowledge, techniques, and other
resources in the design process (Sudradjat 2020).
It underlines the background of the architect's
design process, such as the use of media and ways
of acting, enriching historical and cultural
diversity (Widodo 2019; Subroto 2019).
Through the Yes Is More manifesto, Ingels
synthesized various concepts, including
Hedonistic Sustainability. This paper explains
Hedonistic Sustainability's design concept,
ranging from the origin, principles,
implementation, and context of application
through the architectural works of Bjarke Ingels.
The purpose of choosing this concept was to
appreciate the BIG for its exciting design
philosophy and challenging the idea of
sustainable living principles. This concept is also
a contextual idea with the urgency of today's
architectural design that must prioritize
environmentally friendly principles.
Method
This study uses a qualitative descriptive approach,
commonly used to build knowledge patterns
based on constructive perspectives sourced from
individual experience and historical values
(Creswell 2014). Data collection involved
literature studies of various sources, including
books, articles, and information from the official
website of Bjarke Ingels's works. Text data
processing methods were used to extract text from
various sources. Furthermore, content analysis
techniques were used to determine the inference
of the selected work to provide an overview of the
interpretation of ideas or hedonistic sustainability
concepts proposed by Bjarke Ingels
(Krippendorff 2012). The essence was responded
to by associating this thought with a broader case
to make a more general and comprehensive
conclusion on the hedonistic sustainability
concept.
Findings and discussion
The Ingels architecture process with Koolhaas
provides show that each project is handled
uniquely based on specific conditions. Projects
start with a story attached to a city, about art and
technology, and the institutions that develop.
Therefore, Ingels concludes that architecture is
part of society and is based on societal issues
(Parker 2012).
“Yes is More” might be perceived as a joke
from a famous quote by the founding father of the
modern revolution Mies Van Der Rohe, “Less is
More.” However, the choice of phrases has a solid
basis. Apart from the concrete form of the Less is
More spell, which results in the repetition of
identical square buildings dominating, “Yes is
More” also refers to the fact that the architecture
development is a contradiction and revolution of
previous ideas. Ingels intended to free
architecture from traced cliches and viewed
modern life as an inspiring challenge. As an
architect in the 21st century, he shows that the
project's importance is not formulated under the
basic guidelines and principles of architecture, but
is focused on concept research on architectural
projects expected to be the best in the market.
According to Ingels, the need in architecture
today is not revolution, but evolution.
Architecture should adapt progressively to the
development of life. It should follow the way of
life, rather than slowing the progression of life by
adjusting to obsolete ideas from the past. Perfect
architecture should say "yes!" to every desire and
need (Bjarke Ingels Group 2009).
"Yes is more" represents Ingels's optimism as
a designer in the contemporary era to produce
perfect architectural works. Instead of positioning
themselves toward "pragmatics" that kill the wild
Nita Dwi Estika, Yudhistira Kusuma, Dewi Retno Prameswari, Iwan Sudradjat:
The hedonistic sustainability concept in the works of Bjarke Ingels
341
ideas of an architect or "utopians" that reject
various realities, Ingels merge the two poles in an
architectural design entitled "pragmatic-
utopianism" (Bjarke Ingels Group 2009).
Through the Pragmatic Utopianism idea, he was
confident and optimistic that architectural works
should not be partial. Architectural work should
reach both sides through the creativity of an
architect and produce outcomes that
accommodate various needs.
“How could the ecosystem live
sustainably when humans continue to do
what they want?” (Fiore, Phillips, and
Sellers 2014).
The Hedonistic Sustainability concept also
emanated from the foundation of pragmatic
utopianism. The hedonistic preposition seems to
contradict with the main idea, which is
sustainability. This concept can be expressed
using the term "extravagant while saving." This
concept is against sustainability, which denotes
that living sustainably is a sacrifice (investment)
for the greater good (Fiore, Phillips, and Sellers
2014). Ingels and BIG are active in defining urban
scenarios, bringing concepts related to society,
economy, and ecology to create synergies
between sustainability, community needs, and
spectacular design. (BIG Bjarke Ingels Group
2018; Bjarke Ingels Group 2018).
Bjarke Ingels’s thoughts: Hedonistic
sustainability
Architectures are artistic three-dimensional,
and ecosystem designs that unite ecological and
economic systems. Architects should integrate
everything resourcefully in a plan and ensure the
flow of resources is sustainable (Ingels 2012).
When ecology and economics are combined,
people tend to focus on the boundaries that
emerge as rules, eliminating the community
values built in architecture. According to Ingels,
this is a challenge to determine new ways of
building a pro-community ecological and
economic system (Bjarke Ingels Group 2009).
There is a general misconception of
sustainability regarding how much the
community's life quality should be sacrificed to
achieve sustainability (Ingels 2012). This is the
underlying concept of hedonistic sustainability.
According to Ingels, the solution to the conflict is
purely a matter of design.
“Sustainability cannot be like a
moral sacrifice or political dilemma or a
philanthropic cause. It has to be a design
challenge." (Sanders and Sanders 2019;
Ingels 2012).
Hedonistic sustainability is a vision to respond
to current challenges in line with the need for new
ways of addressing the evolving contemporary
lives, multicultural issues, economic problems,
and technological and communication
developments. Hedonistic sustainability is a
mind-set that integrates aspects of sustainability
with playfulness into a building to improve
human life.
Ingels doubt that the environment is currently
undergoing an ecological regression (Bjarke
Ingels Group 2009). In his view, the environment
is ecologically "possible" in progress. The
statement seems to show the quality of the built
environment whose development is not
proportional to the needs and lifestyles of humans
currently. This situation indirectly forces humans
to adjust their lifestyles for sustainability.
As an architect with authority and
responsibility to change the built environment for
the better, Ingels stated that an architect should
create a sustainable design and still accommodate
the way humans want to live, rather than precisely
imposing limits on their life (Bjarke Ingels Group
2009). Ingels change the sustainable paradigm
that cramps the society because it has to limit
everything. A sustainable life is not merely about
changing existing lifestyles, and the world can be
changed to suit human life.
Ingels developed the idea of a pro-community
built environment design in which expending
energy produced more of it (Bjarke Ingels Group
2009). Therefore, the Hedonistic Sustainability
concept is needed. In his book Yes is More, Ingels
criticized some of the contents of "Ten
Commandments of Good Consumption," as
shown in table 1.
Tabel 1. Hedonistic sustainability critiscism of ten
commandments of good consumption
Ten commandments of
good consumption
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Stay close to home
Minimize the use of
combustion engines
Reduce fuel
consumption
Support government
regulation with political
choices
Support thoughtful
innovation
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Ten commandments of
good consumption
Prioritize
Vote
Do not feel guilty
Enjoy what you have
Source: (Bjarke Ingels Group 2009)
Through the hedonistic sustainability concept,
Ingels offers expectations and beliefs that humans
can live in a utopian architecture world that is
beautiful but still be responsible. Sustainable
design provides fun and enthusiasm and can
improve the quality of life for individuals and
communities (Fiore, Phillips, and Sellers 2014).
However, to create a pleasant sustainable
environment, public and community participation
in the design process is needed (Fiore, Phillips,
and Sellers 2014).
"... to look at some different
approaches where sustainable cities and
buildings increase the quality of life"
(Ren 2016).
Hedonistic sustainability, as the design
principle of BIG in various articles, is considered
closer to the joke in architecture. Szczegielniak
(2015) explained that BIG is an expert in making
jokes in architecture with a funny design process.
However, it is a solution to problems in various
contexts faced by the development of Ingels
architecture. With this approach, they expect
architecture to be readily accepted and understood
by the wider community, attracting society's
involvement in its architectural work.
Figure 1. Schema of hedonistic sustainability concept
Design approach
In the design process, Ingels uses two
approaches to achieve optimal design: simulation
and irony. Specifically, this was meant to achieve
a synergistic and sustainable design.
The simulation approach is analogous as a boy
playing with a Lego model or a digital computer
game. Many Ingels buildings oppose the
conventions and dimensions of traditional
architecture and highly eccentric and photogenic.
Ingels uses the camouflage perspective learned
from Koolhaas and used digital technology to
formulate influential designs (Sagdıc 2016). For
instance, the use of simulation, imitation, and
representation by BIG was applied to The
Mountain project (2007) in Copenhagen. The
project explores the experience (simulation) of
life on the "mountain," and therefore, an artificial
mountain was built. It is a view of new
mountainous settlements in the sub-urban area of
Copenhagen (Ingels 2012). Simulation is a
representation of reality that is considered equal
because it produces several authentic
characteristics. In this project, reproduced
"mountains" emerge as imaginative theatrical
realities (Balık and Allmer 2015a).
The ironic approach is also used as a design to
create an ironic expression and form a more iconic
building. An ironic expression on Ingels
architecture is a design input that develops
pragmatic-utopian design ideas, such as rational
and irrational binary, usual and unusual, or
serious and funny. Ingels developed irony as a
collective creation tool to produce ideas with
other architects.
For example, in The Mountain project (Figure
2), Ingels deliberately made the residential block
"The Mountain" look like a mountainous
settlement. In reality, the Copenhagen plain is a
flat without mountains. The irony approach arises
because the resulting design contradicted the
situation in Copenhagen.
Figure 2. The mountain building
Source: (Bjarke Ingels Group 2007)
Nita Dwi Estika, Yudhistira Kusuma, Dewi Retno Prameswari, Iwan Sudradjat:
The hedonistic sustainability concept in the works of Bjarke Ingels
343
The design decision is not merely the
fulfillment of utopian desire. There are
sustainability values accommodated in The
Mountain's design, including land reduction
(building function integration), natural lighting
and ventilation, the view of each occupancy, and
sustainable technology (Bjarke Ingels Group
2007).
Implementation of the hedonistic
sustainability concept in Bjarke Ingels’ work
The Hedonistic Sustainability concept is
widely applied to projects directed by Ingels and
BIG. The explanation of this concept's
implementation is based on the analysis using two
Ingels design approaches, including a simulation
(SA), and an ironic approach (IA). Several iconic
projects by Ingels withthe Hedonistic
Sustainability concept are briefly explained in
table 2.
Tabel 2. Implementation of hedonistic sustainability concepts in Several BIG Projects
Project
Design approach
Hedonistic sustainability value
The Mountain (2007), Kopenhagen
https://big.dk/#projects-mtn
SA: The parking building is likened
to a mountain, and then dwelling is
placed on it (the experience of
settlement life on the mountain).
IA: Design residential blocks like in
the mountains, while Copenhagen is
a city without mountains.
Hedonistic: The pleasure of living
in the mountains; Sub-urban life in
urban density.
Sustainability: Integration of two
building functions; Natural lighting,
fresh air, views, and parking in each
residential unit; Roof garden with
irrigation from rainwater collection
technology.
8 House (2009), Kopenhagen
https://big.dk/#projects-8
SA: The experience of normative
residential life (horizontal land)
such as on a city roadside with
bicycle and pedestrian paths to
access various facilities.
IA: Transform the idea into vertical
residential typologies on confined
land.
Hedonistic: Horizontal residential
life inside a vertical housing
(pedestrian path for walking and
biking).
Sustainability: Integration of various
facilities in one residential block
area; Roof garden to reduce the
effects of urban heat island;
rainwater collection technology.
Amager Resource Center (2019),
Kopenhagen
https://big.dk/#projects-arc
SA: Making the incinerator facility
community-friendly (obscuring the
image of industrial buildings);
Making "mountains" for recreation
Copenhagen community.
IA: Mountain recreation in an area
without mountains; Recreation on
top of industrial facilities
(incinerator).
Hedonistic: Mountain recreation
(ice skating, hiking, wall climbing).
Sustainability: Turn obsolete
incinerator into a green building
landmark; Educational facilities
about sustainability for the
community (waste-to-energy plant);
large roof garden for new natural
ecosystems; New recreation area.
Source: (Bjarke Ingels Group 2020; Støa 2008; Balık and Allmer 2015b; Vyzoviti 2013; Ingels 2012)
Many Ingels architectural works that apply
similar design patterns, include Copenhagen
Harbor Bath (2005) in Copenhagen, Danish
Pavilion (2010) in Shanghai, and VIA 57 West
(2016) in New York. The idea of these works was
to mergepleasure into a sustainable environment
system. It relieves the burden of boundaries
arising from sustainable principles. Ingels created
an environmental nuance that makes ordinary
people interested and willing to understand
sustainable living and living. In this case, the
critical thing is the design following the desires
and ways of life of the community, sourced from
the societal stories, and adding pleasure
(playfulness) in the design.
The Hedonistic Sustainability concept is a
contemporary thought that can be used in
architectural design. It is in line with the urgency
of the current design that should meet the
standards of green architecture and sustainable
development. Therefore, the assertion that the
quality of sustainable physical design needs to be
supported by the involvement of the surrounding
community is disputed. Ingels, in his design, has
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successfully integrated both aspects. Through
creativity as an architect, an unusual way to make
the community to live with sustainable principles
was discovered.
Sustainable architectural design approaches
may vary with the context. Ingels' hedonistic
sustainability concept widely applied in the
Scandinavian region can be successful since it is
ready in various aspects. In other regions,
architects must be very creative in finding
solutions to the spirit of sustainable community-
based design. Contextuality is very important
since designing a built environment improves the
quality of life of its users based on their needs. A
well-designed and sustainable built environment
persuades users to be indirectly integrated into it.
Conclusion
"Yes is More" as a typical manifesto by Bjarke
Ingels elucidates pragmatic-utopianism, an
understanding of reaching two opposing poles.
Pragmatic-utopianism opens the awareness that
radical evolution is a necessary attitude and spirit
in various fields, including architecture, not
merely a revolution. The changing human life
demands the fulfillment of various needs. This
means that architecture should follow the
development and way of life of the community.
Hedonistic Sustainability works through the
integration of sustainability and fun aspects. The
design process by Ingels and BIG often combine
functions that appear to have no synergy. This is
because the "ironic" approach to the hedonistic
sustainability concept proposed by Ingels trigger
designs that seem out of the box, demanding
innovation in each design. The representation of a
particular object in each Ingels design enriches
the design concept. This is carried out by
representing natural formations and urban
conditions. The representation of an object is
adapted into formations and elements attached to
each design, believing that each user feels the
presence of the object.
To present a playful impression on each
design, Ingels present attractions for users.
According to Ingels, every user in the design can
move dynamically. This means each design is
supported by public facilities that trigger motor
users. The impression of playfulness in Ingels's
work is also reflected in its mass formation. The
building elements are arranged by playing
horizontal, vertical, and diagonal axes. Therefore,
repetition back and forth, rise-and-sink, as well as
up and down in the design, produces a building
mass with a dynamic impression.
Ingels responds to the surrounding
environment to bring up sustainability aspects of
each design. He uses every field in building works
to respond to the surrounding climate and
conditions. The green elements on the roofs and
walls of buildings maintain and enhance green
open spaces in the city where the building stands.
The use of materials responding to the
environment optimizes design performance. This
is one of Ingels's efforts to harmonize work with
the surrounding environment.
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