BIG special

THE BIG TEAM- David Zahle

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

Zahle joined BIG as an intern in the early days, and helped win the practice its first major commission when he met the Danish developer Per Hopfner in his friend’s backyard. On learning Hopfner was a developer, Zahle outlined BIG’s ambitions and invited him to the office to find out more.

“I called him up a week later and asked if he wanted to drop by,” says Zahle. “He said he’d be there in 15 minutes. At the time there were only nine of us, we didn’t have a receptionist and everything was a total mess. We frantically cleaned up and then showed him around. We had no built work at all, but he must have seen something in us, because he asked if we could design a housing project for him.”

This led to BIG’s first assignment, the VM Houses in Copenhagen, and the collaboration with Hopfner continued with the Mountain and the 8 House.

For Zahle, he knew that BIG was the place for him when the practice won the competition for the Danish Maritime Museum in Helsingor. “We decided that I should be the project manager, even though you’d normally be expected to have 10 years experience for the role. I realised we’d created an environment where it was more about talent and trust than how much experience you had.

“It was a turning point for me, realising that, here, I can basically do anything.”

Zahle is currently involved with several BIG projects in the Nordics and is overseeing the business development of BIG’s Scandinavian projects. Projects include the Amager Resource Center, the Panda House at Copenhagen Zoo and Kistefos Museum, Norway.

Bjarke Ingels on David Zahle
“David is a real people person. He’s great at relating to people internally and externally. I think he acknowledges the significance of that in architecture. It’s a very important skill.”

Panda House

Copenhagen, Denmark

BIG’s design for the new Panda House at Copenhagen Zoo begins with a circular shape, formed by the zoo’s surrounding facilities at the intersection of multiple walkways. Panda House is designed to feel like humans are the visitors in the pandas’ home, rather than pandas being the ‘exotic guests from faraway lands’.
The habitat has been designed to closely resemble the pandas’ natural habitat. The architect said of the design: ‘It forms the freest and most naturalistic possible environment for the pandas’ lives and relationships with each other, providing the freedom to roam about and the ideal conditions to mate – one of the major challenges facing pandas.’

The Panda House features separate spaces for the male and female pandas
The Panda House features separate spaces for the male and female pandas
The Panda House features separate spaces for the male and female pandas
The Panda House features separate spaces for the male and female pandas
company profile
Company profile: GSM Project
Founded in 1958, GSM Project is a multidisciplinary design and production firm specializing in museum exhibitions, observation decks, and other visitor experiences. With over 1000 projects worldwide, we are a turnkey supplier with over 60 years of experience.
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
Koen Olthuis. His Blue Habitat project is an arficial coral reef aiming to raise awareness
"You could have cultural events and museums that go from city to city. It’s a new way of thinking"

Rising sea levels and a shortage of land are leading to increased interest in floating buildings. We take a look at some fascinating projects

The MACRO contemporary art museum, Rome
Decq has been recognised for raising the profile of women in architecture
"Things have improved, but not enough"

On women in architecture

The Yongsan park site is bigger than Central 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
Three raised white stone volumes will be constructed
Theoni Xanthi Partner XZA Architects
"The design concept is to create a museum that evokes a transition in time, in space, in memory"

The vision for the New Cyprus Musuem

Well designed spaces can encourage social interaction
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

Facilities include a spa
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

"Whenever you’re looking at it, the elevation is running away from you, so it never looks quite as big as it really is "

FaulknerBrowns’ Dutch sports facility

The hotel is created using concrete and glass
"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

At the Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat, reclaimed brick walls create multiple courtyard enclosures
Rossana Hu studied at the University of California at Berkeley, where she met Lyndon Neri
"Interior projects carried out by architects have a depth that’s generally lacking today"

Neri & Hu’s latest project

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 ...
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. ...
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 ...
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 ...
cladkit product news
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 ...
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 ...