Bjarke Ingels: mastering the rules before breaking or bending them

The Vancouver Sun
March 20, 2014

For years, the unusual shape of the building site in the 1400-block Howe in the shadow of the Granville Street bridge stymied developer Westbank. Site restrictions, including a 30-metre setback from the bridge, left only a triangular chunk of land of 6,000 square feet.

And that, as architect Bjarke Ingels said, was prohibitively tall for a condominium tower.

Ingels, a Danish architect whose firm Bjarke Ingels Group has offices in New York and Copenhagen, approached the problem differently. If the intent of the city’s regulation was to provide a minimum distance from the bridge for residents of a tower, what would happen once you rose 100 feet above the bridge? Residents would be well above the bridge sightlines.

If that was the case, then a design solution would be to start the building on a triangular base and slowly change the form into a rectangular as it climbed higher.

The simple and elegant design freed up the upper building envelope for development. In essence, it found unused developable space in thin air.

“Behind any rule or regulation, there is intent,” Ingels said in an interview. “There is the letter and the spirit. If you understand the spirit, then there might be ways of addressing those concerns that are the underlying reasons why the code is the way it is. Read More…

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