Architecture Alchemy

I just came across Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’ TED talk on his innovative and optimistic, yet practical approaches to real-world issues.  He works to “bring coherence to the urban fabric and to help buildings’ occupants and users lead better lives,” designing with social and environmental concerns in mind.  His ideas are unique in that they are quite large in scale, yet simultaneously consider the micro scale interactions and dynamics of spaces within his design.

In his follow-up interview on TED’s blog post, he explained.

What I like about the term alchemy is that you take traditional ingredients that would separately be just “normal this” and “normal that,” and when you combine them, because of symbiotic relationships, you get much more out of the mix than if you were to leave them separate.


Public life is usually restricted to the ground floor. Here, it invades the higher levels of the city. You can have a spontaneous encounter. You can sit in your garden on the 10th floor and wave at the mailman who comes by on his way down, and when you have to go to work, you can jump on your mountain bike and ride 500 meters to the city level. It’s essentially allowing all these aspects — the spontaneous social encounter, the neighborhood feeling — to populate the highlands of the city. If we had done it the traditional way, keeping them separate, we wouldn’t have the same intensity. But when we put it all together, we get unique qualities.

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