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Formgiving: an Architectural Future History, By Big

BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group’s third Taschen book, Formgiving. An Architectural Future History, takes readers on a chronological journey across time and space through a collection of exclusive essays, a selection of BIG projects from the last decade, planetary proposals, and a glimpse of Masterplanet.

BIG’s trilogy with Taschen began with the architectural graphic novel Yes is More, followed by a round-up of adaptive architecture in Hot to Cold, and now continues with Formgiving. An Architectural Future History. Rooted in the Danish word for “design”, “formgivning” literally means to give form to that which has not yet taken shape. In other words, to give form to the future. The 700+ page catalogue debuts one year after its namesake exhibition opened to the public at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen, which welcomed over 85,000 visitors. Formgiving also includes award-winning photography by Iwan Baan, Laurian Ghinitoiu, Rasmus Hjortshøj, and others, along with imagery of 20 LEGO master-builder models of BIG’s work.

Presented in a logarithmic timeline, Formgiving spans from the dawn of time with the Big Bang and stretches into the distant future. Starting in the Past, the first chapters explore the built world through six evolutionary trajectories—“Making,” “Sensing,” “Sustaining,” “Thinking,” “Healing,” and “Moving”—to serve as markers for architects and designers to navigate time rather than just space, when mapping the future.

“To feel that we have license to imagine a future different from today, all we have to do is look back ten years, a hundred years, a thousand years, to realize how radically different things were then than they are today. The same will be true if we can look ahead with the same clarity of vision. As we tackle the complexities of everyday life, these six evolutionary trajectories allow us to place a firm gaze on the horizon of time to prevent us from being derailed by the random distractions of today. Since we know from our past that our future is bound to be different from our present, rather than waiting for it to take shape on its own, we have the power to give it form.” Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

In the Present section, more than 65 projects document BIG’s global work through the eyes of its users, from the drawing board of the studio’s iterative process to construction sites and completed projects. Culture, climate, and landscape, as well as all the energies derived from the elements—the thermal mass of the ocean, the dynamics of currents, the energy and warmth of the sun, the power of the wind—are essential considerations within the design process. The projects in this section represent specific fragments of the future, each revealing opportunities for architecture to go beyond the brief and give a gift to the world.


Bjarke Ingels continues: “With each project, we have the ability and power as Formgivers to go above and beyond what we have been asked to do and give the world a Gift that no one asked for – but now that it has been given – the world would be a lesser place without it and future generations will be better for it. By giving a Gift to the future with every project we do, each groundbreaking becomes a concrete step towards a world that is more like our dreams: Pragmatic Utopia.”