More than sixty three-dimensional architectural models, mock-ups and prototypes by Danish architect BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group dramatically suspend from the second-floor of the National Building Museum’s historic Great Hall. Hot to Cold: an odyssey of architectural adaptation guides visitors on quite a journey, from the scorching heat of the Arabian desert to the unforgiving chill of the Finnish tundra. The idea is to explore the cultural and climatic forces that shape our cities and buildings.
The exhibition looks into the harsh demands of climatic extremes, where architecture is about survival – more about shading from the heat or sheltering from the cold than a visual statement. In contrast, the more temperate environments open scope for culture, politics and legislation to shape the design of buildings.
Founding partner Bjarke Ingels reminds us that architecture cannot happen in the clinical conditions of a lab, stressing it needs to respond to a series of existing conditions, what he refers to as ‘the context, the culture, the landscape, the climate. Our climate is the one thing we can’t escape – the one condition we always have to respond to.’
The exhibition, he notes, explores how architecture evolves in response to its context, but also how life in return reacts to the framework created by the architecture.
‘BIG has perceived the National Building Museum more as a site for a project,’ says the curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino, so that sunlight, the sounds, and the sights of the Great Hall will all be part of the context of the display, much like for a building in the city.
Iwan Baan‘s photography captures BIG’s work, and films by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, Kaspar Astrup Schroder, WAAITT and Squint/Opera document the life that emerges once the cranes have left and the buildings are complete.