A “giant curtain” gently pulled aside is how Danish wunderkind Bjarke Ingels describes his inspirational design for Vancouver House. Transforming the Canadian city’s skyline, the uniquely twisted, top-heavy residential building will expand 500 feet into the sky, defying gravity and redefining possibility.
Since its inception in 2005, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has accumulated dozens of international awards for its projects, including the Two World Trade Center, the Danish Maritime Museum, and the VIA 57 West and VM Houses apartment complexes. Vancouver House, named Future Project of the Year 2015 by the World Architecture Festival, is now part of this illustrious list.
Ingels viewed the unpromising site, entangled in heavy traffic and dominated by a large access bridge, and saw only opportunity. This is typical of his philosophy: navigating a third route between building predictable box apartments and engineering unrealistic architectural extremes.
His motto “Yes is More” – celebrated in his graphic novel of the same name – embraces a radical manifesto exploring this middle ground between the predictable and the impractical. Vancouver, as a result, will gain a super-prime piece of real estate, cementing its global rank as one of the world’s top cities for purchasing property.
Among BIG's extraordinary contemporary masterpieces is the headquarters of Swiss watchmakers Audemars Piguet, La Maison des Fondateurs, which resembles a coiled spring. Equally ground-breaking is Manhattan’s Hud-The Dryline, an ingenious coastal defence designed to withstand another Hurricane Sandy. Leisure activities will extend along the ten miles of this impressive flood barrier once it’s installed.
Adapt and survive
The evolution of Vancouver House is not dissimilar, says Ingels, to that of the famed Flatiron in New York, a triangular skyscraper that had to adapt to the awkward space available in the city. The Canadian structure’s height is in harmony with its mountainous backdrop and its “toes” dig in under the Granville Bridge, where a new urban village will enliven the area. Darwin’s “adapt and survive” mantra is a key influence on the young architect whose ultimate ambition is to “make a world we want to live in”.
Meaning “entirety in a work of art”, Ingels embodies this German term with his multiple award-winning designs. As the concept also refers to the maintenance of a sense of community alongside the creation of beautiful living spaces, Vancouver House’s inhabitants can expect to cultivate an elegant lifestyle through convenient access to green spaces and a vibrant selection of cafes, galleries and shops.
Internally, attention to detail is scrupulous at BIG – even the smallest fixture is subject to approval, such as a bespoke chandelier at Vancouver House’s lobby which will spin up and down throughout the day. “Alchemy” is the word used by BIG's architects to describe their fastidious focus on formulating a luxurious urban lifestyle. With a five-star concierge service and generous outdoor balconies featuring individual hot tubs and saunas in each suite, it's not surprising that the units are already selling fast.
Vancouver House is a work in progress, with completion slated for 2018. Engel & Völkers is offering apartments in this iconic building – a superb opportunity to invest in architectural history. The company's extensive array of luxury homes covers four continents, with skilled professional expertise on hand in 36 countries.