Bjarke Ingels explains the world the way we like it

From historical times to the present day, and from Copenhagen to Shanghai: This book forges links between generations and continents, in doing so puts forward daring theories and is nothing if not incredibly entertaining. The monograph "Yes is More" does not even bother with conventional means of communicating architecture, even though the garishly colorful pages of the paperback are a sort of business card for a firm of architects, namely the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Whilst maintaining their familiar, internationally renowned signature the Danish architects, first and foremost their leader Bjarke Ingels, place their trust in the elan of new paths, break conventional patterns asunder and yet in the process are pragmatic as opposed to revolutionary. "Yes is More" transfers all these characteristics to the book format, portrays built projects as well as designs from the BIG portfolio and explains them in comic form. Instead of professional high-gloss photos, bright little pictures and speech bubbles provide insights into the BIG design philosophy, and instead of technical details there are references to political backgrounds. Geographic analyses such as those of the highest mountain peaks in Azerbaijan bear witness to the painstaking design approach BIG uses, one that in recent years has proved to be a success. Bjarke Ingels himself acts as a guide through this marvelous bibliophile universe, in which people, building assignments, and places meet. Originally he did not want to be an architect, but a comic illustrator -his first work as a storyteller in comic format is all the more successful for it.

"Less is more" says Mies van der Rohe writes on the first pages of the book, "I'm a whore" replies Philip Johnson, "...more and more..." continues Rem Koolhaas, in whose Rotterdam studio Bjarke Ingels spent a year learning the ropes after graduating in Copenhagen. And as if all that were not enough, this particular sequence culminates in Barack Obama's "Yes we can", while at the very end Bjarke Ingels has the final word - with "Yes is more". The Dane has always made a young, cheeky impression, but was never more than an ‘angry young man'. Much of what in the first instance may sound naïve, turns out at second glance to be tactical maneuvering and strategy, which the 36-year old professor at Columbia University applies quite specifically. He is interested in architecture as a negotiating point, as a step in the evolution chain and in the unlimited belief that we can all move the world forward. This view of the world is particularly evident in the architects' ironically serious designs, which the comic documents in detail and which will probably never be built: A gigantic port between Germany and Denmark, designed to accommodate a large proportion of European shipping, an island in the Bay of Baku that is self-sufficient in terms of energy, a highrise with a portrait of a sheik positioned in the desert like a mirage with the befitting name "Sheik chich". "Yes is more" has quite rightly been awarded the prize for the best architects' monograph awarded by Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt/Main. Anybody wanting to see more of BIG than is in the book ought to visit the "Yes is more" exhibition in the Stuttgart gallery Wechselraum - or make a trip to Copenhagen, where in the Ørestad district the "8 House" was recently completed.

Text: Sandra Hofmeister

Yes is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution
By Bjarke Ingels
Soft cover, 400 pages, German and English edition
Taschen, Cologne, 2010
EUR 19,99

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Dr. Sandra Hofmeister

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