BIG special

THE BIG TEAM - Kai-Uwe Bergmann

Bjarke Ingels credits BIG’s enormous success to the creative team he has built around him, and the studio now has partners spread across the world. Each brings something markedly different to the table, as Kim Megson and Magali Robathan find out

Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

When Bergmann first met Ingels at the Venice Biennale in 2004, the two seemed destined to collaborate as Bergmann was planning his move to Copenhagen that same year. They met up again and Bergmann brought along his portfolio. “It was a funky combination of glass blowing and a clay temple in Central Africa. I really liked Kai and offered him a job,” says Ingels.

Bergmann is head of business development, or as Ingels refers to him, “BIG’s foreign minister”. He also spearheads BIG Landscape and works on BIG’s Urbanism projects. Recent examples include the Pittsburgh Lower Hill masterplan, the Smithsonian Institute campus overhaul and the BIG U, BIG’s leisure-orientated storm barrier for Lower Manhattan.

“BIG U is us starting the foundation work for a future resilient city,” says Bergmann. “What we’re looking for is investment in flood protection – we asked ourselves: instead of just having a basic grey floodwall, could we raise the quality of life in these neighbourhoods by leveraging the flood protection investment to create parks? We asked the people who lived there what they lacked most, and they all put open green space as their number one choice.”

Bergmann also takes his role as the BIG culture ambassador seriously, ensuring that ‘BIGsters’ share their knowledge through BIG schools, are inspired through the BIG Picture lecture series, enjoy BIG study trips and above all stay in touch with the global network of ‘BIGster’ alumni everywhere.

One of Bergmann’s favourite experiences with BIG was cycling from Mendoza, Argentina, over the Andes to the coast of Chile in 2004. “We spent six days, all together. It was an endurance; up to 200km a day, uphill, but it was absolutely amazing,” he says.

Bjarke Ingels on Kai-Uwe Bergmann
“Kai-Uwe is a unique blend of American extroversion and Germanic structure, which makes him a force of nature as a networker. His secret strength is his endurance and ability to take on and manage the complexities of creating opportunities for us. It’s liberating!”



Developed in collaboration with New York City, the BIG U proposal was developed to protect Lower Manhattan from floods, storms and other impacts of climate change. A storm barrier-cum leisure amenity, it stretches around Manhattan from West 54th street south to The Battery and up to East 40th street: a high water barrier incorporating public space with parks, seating, bicycle shelters, sports facilities and skateboard ramps.

The architect says of the project: ‘The BIG U consists of multiple but linked design opportunities; each on different scales of time, size and investment; each local neighbourhood tailoring its own set of programs, functions, and opportunities.

‘Small, relatively simple projects maintain the resiliency investment momentum post-Sandy, while setting in motion the longer-term solutions that will be necessary in the future.’

The BIG U high water barrier is 16km long, and incorporates community facilities
The BIG U high water barrier is 16km long, and incorporates community facilities
company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
Johannes Torpe is behind the design of the Red Mountain Resort, which will blend into the landscape
"We want to create the illusion that guests are entering another world when they arrive at the resort"

An Icelandic spa retreat inspired by surrealist folk tales

ABA have designed four residential towers with leisure space for the Greenwich Peninsula scheme
Alison Brooks
"The profession is changing"

We need to help the public understand that architects are on their side, argues The Smile designer

The Yongsan Park project will see a military installation replaced by a public park
Adriaan Geuze
"The profile of landscape architecture has been raised by international cities competing with one another"

How the West 8 founder is using the healing power of nature on a Korean site with a turbulent history

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
Decq opened the Confluence Institute architectural school in 2014
Decq has been recognised for raising the profile of women in architecture
"Things have improved, but not enough"

On women in architecture

Ex In House
New York, 2015
Experimental guest house
Steven Holl is widely considered to be one of America’s most important and influential architects
" What sound is to music, light is to space "

The acclaimed architect speaks to CLAD about Donald Trump, Zaha Hadid and not being obedient

My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, in the belly of the building
Lund has worked as a designer for Soho House since 2014. She co-led the design of The Ned
"My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, in the belly of the building. It once stored gold bullion deposits of £335m"

On the challenges of creating The Ned

The Venus Williams-designed Tennis Lounge features a bright yellow, green and teal colour scheme
DMAC’s Dwayne MacEwen
"The hotel concept came late in the game, but it was an inspired idea"

The newly renovated Chicago Midtown Athletic Club features a boutique hotel, a pool-come-ice rink and spaces designed by Venus Williams

Inside the FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, designed by Gensler
Tom Lindblom
"Public spaces support the widest diversity of experiences"

At last concrete proof that design is the critical factor that turns good experiences into great ones says Gensler’s Tom Lindblom

cladkit product news
FAÇADE2017 winners 'diverse and remarkable', says SFE board member
Ramboll was awarded for the Blavatnik Building, Switchouse Extension of the Tate Moder
Lauren Heath-Jones
A trio of British leisure facilities have been honoured in the Façade2017 awards. Established in 2013 by the Society of ...
AB Concept partners with House of Tai Ping for luxurious rug collection
The collection was inspired by the idea of looking down at the world from a great height
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design house AB Concept has partnered with bespoke rug specialist Tai Ping to create Nephele, an exclusive line of handcrafted ...
Brdr. Krüger to exhibit at IMM Cologne
The Theodor chair was named after studio co-founder Theodor Krüger
Lauren Heath-Jones
Danish furniture company Brdr. Krüger will showcase a range of new and existing pieces at international interiors show, IMM Cologne. ...
cladkit product news
Empex Watertoys partners with Singapore architecture firm on new splash park
Buds is a new splash park that caters to children aged 12 and under
Lauren Heath-Jones
Empex Watertoys has partnered with Singapore landscape architecture firm Playpoint Singapore Pte to create Buds, an exciting new splash park ...
Matteo Thun Atelier create hospitality collection inspired by Mediterranean atmosphere
The collection is designed to integrate with numerous architecture and interior projects across the hospitality sector
Kim Megson
The studio of Italian architect and designer Matteo Thun have produced a new range of wooden furniture designed for everything ...
London's new pollution-eating living wall has air purifying power of 275 trees
CityTree is a living wall that reduces particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air by 30 per cent
Lauren Heath-Jones
The Crown Estate, a London-based commercial real estate company, has partnered with Westminster City Council and cleantech specialist Evergen Systems ...
cladkit product news
Ma Yansong debuts out of this world furniture collection
Ma Yansong was inspired by science fiction and the possibility of life on Mars
Lauren Heath-Jones
Curation-led design gallery Gallery ALL debuted the MAD Martian Collection at Design Miami. Designed by Ma Yansong, founder and principal ...
Hotel Crescent Court opens new spa following multi-million-dollar renovation
Hotel Crescent Court has reopened its spa after a multi-million dollar refurbishment
Lauren Heath-Jones
Hotel Crescent Court, a luxury hotel in Dallas, Texas, has reopened its spa and fitness centre after completing a multi-million-dollar ...