HOT TO COLD – An Odyssey Of Architectural Adaptation

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HOT_TO_COLD_000.jpgBIG’s HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. Image courtesy TASCHEN

HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation is the follow up release to the 2009 magnus opus, YES IS MORE, an archicomic on architectural revolution and offers a chance to critique and reflect on the work and progression of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in the 6 years since the release of their last monograph. Will this book have the same lasting impact that its predecessor achieved?

In 2009 the monograph YES IS MORE introduced the world to the now powerhouse Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels and his dream factory of big ideas, BIG. This revolutionary book promised solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems through architecture. The ideas were clearly presented through a series of clever comic strips and straightforward diagrams that sold a convincing storyline that left little to doubt the validity of the designs. As a result, the book became a powerful tool and inspiration for architects to sell themselves and their ideas to the public. Ingels, who had previously worked for OMA, fused the rationality of Dutch architecture with the socialist ideals of Scandinavia and packaged his ideas into neat little designs that were easily understandable through a single diagram.

HOT_TO_COLD_001.jpgBIG’s HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. Image courtesy TASCHEN

HOT TO COLD defers from its predecessor by offering a new and innovative way of presenting the rapidly expanding list of projects undertaken by BIG throughout the world. Rather than displaying BIG’s portfolio as a chronological story to highlight the evolution of the firm’s work over a period of time, it catalogues each project according to the environmental climate in which the project is designed for. This allows a distinctive look into how BIG’s designs respond and adapt to climatic conditions and shows the myriad ways in which architects can have a sustainable approach to design.

HOT_TO_COLD_002.jpgBIG’s HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. Image courtesy TASCHEN

On each spread there is a large colored border which translates to a rainbow spectrum of color.┬áStarting with red, the book begins with projects in the Middle East and finishes with those in Scandinavia as a deep blue. While this is a unique and interesting way to exhibit projects, sometimes the classification of buildings isn’t quite clear. For instance, two projects located in Copenhagen are classified as two different colors. The public park, Superkilen, is given the mild climatic color of green while the Amager Resource Centre, located only 10km east of Superkilen, is designated dark blue and the coldest project of the book. Perhaps the color classification of some projects has been influenced more by the atmosphere of its renderings than its actual geographical location.

HOT_TO_COLD_003.jpgBIG’s HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. Image courtesy TASCHEN

The development of BIG as a company is clearly visible when comparing YES IS MORE to HOT TO COLD. Rather than just relying on story, HOT TO COLD communicates projects through plans, sections and an array of other conventional architectural drawing methods which shows a definite maturing of the company.

HOT_TO_COLD_004.jpgBIG’s HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. Image courtesy TASCHEN

Perhaps inadvertently, it also shows that the individual character of Ingels, whose voice and style of dialogue was so clear throughout YES IS MORE, has become diluted as the company has expanded and increased in size. Throughout the book there appears to be some confusion about who the narrator actually is. We assume it is Ingels but unlike YES IS MORE, where his comical silhouette offers points of narration, it is never confirmed. Furthermore, while the tone of voice is similar to that of Ingles, it doesn’t quite have the same panache that we have come to associate with his heavily gesticulated style of speech.

While HOT TO COLD is not as revolutionary as its predecessor, it is still a beautifully designed book illustrating a diverse range of BIG’s international projects and reinforcing BIG as one of the giants in contemporary architecture. For those who might have been expecting something deep and critical from this maturing firm, it does include some small essays towards the end of the book. However, this book mostly succeeds as a great reference for architects with material on strategies for climatic design, project clarity and communication tools while also as a small coffee table book that will easily engage and captivate non-architects with its fantastical designs.