BIG establishes engineering division for major projects

Dubai to Abu Dhabi Hyperloop designer Bjarke Ingels’ firm BIG has launched an in-house engineering department to work on “technically ambitious” projects.

BIG Engineering is to be run Duncan Horswill, the former chief operating officer at Søren Jensen Engineers and co-founder of design group at Ramboll UK.

“Having engineers join our group of architects, product designers and landscape architects is the inevitable next step towards providing the silo-shattering interdisciplinary design innovation that we want to bring to the world,” said Ingels, who founded his Copenhagen-based firm in 2005.

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“At BIG we practice knowledge-driven design. To be able to stretch the boundaries of the physical, financial, regulatory and environmental limits of design, we need to surround ourselves with the best experts in the fields outside our own expertise in architecture, and bring them in-house,” he continued.

“As we started on-boarding our own engineers, we have learned how much more impactful our design thinking can be when the expertise resides internally.”

BIG Engineering will also work alongside the studio’s specialist research group BIG Ideas, which helped develop one of the firm’s most complex ideas to date, the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant – a combined power plant and ski slope in Copenhagen that blows smoke rings from its chimney.

“Over the past 19 years I have enjoyed working on some of the world’s most ambitious developments and projects for a range of architects and clients,” said Horswill.

“I am now looking forward to breaking down the traditional barriers that have existed between architects and engineers, and to helping redefine the role of the engineer, not as a problem solver but as a genuine creative force whose aim is to explore, not to reduce.”

BIG Engineering will also work alongside the studio’s specialist research group BIG Ideas, which helped develop one of the firm’s most complex ideas to date, the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant – a combined power plant and ski slope in Copenhagen that blows smoke rings from its chimney.

The studio plans to continue working with external engineering firms including AKT, ARUP, DeSimone, Thornton Tomasetti, BuroHappold, Schlaich Bergermann Partner, Bollinger + Grohmann, Ramboll and MKA.

Ingels recently starred in a Netflix documentary, in which he discussed how BIG’s “crazy ideas” have revolutionised how architecture is perceived by the general public.

Among the firm’s latest projects are a new bottling plant for the soft drinks company San Pellegrino in Italy and a collaboration with Thomas Heatherwick for Google’s Californian headquarters.

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