Kai-Uwe Bergmann

Walter Wisznia Memorial Lecture


This event is free and open to the public. AIA members are eligible to receive HSW and SD credits for attending this lecture.

"Hedonistic Sustainability" as designed by Bjarke Ingels Group

The general perception of sustainability is this idea of a moral code: How much of our existing quality of life are we prepared to sacrifice to afford being sustainable. It is the protestant perception that it has to hurt to be good and that a sustainable life means doing less than a normal life. But we are looking at how sustainable cities, or sustainable buildings, can increase the quality of life – to finds ways of designing cities and buildings as double ecosystems that are both ecologically but also economically profitable and where the outcome doesn’t actually force people to alter their lifestyle to have a better conscience. They can live exactly the way they want, or even better, because the world and the city are designed in such a way, that they can actually do so. Essentially it is to approach the question of sustainability not as a moral dilemma but as a design challenge. What we try to do in our work is invent examples of how sustainable thinking, sustainable design, sustainable cities can actually increase the quality of life, so essentially that sustainable life becomes more fun than normal life. Perhaps the difference is that we are proposing it as a battle cry for architects and designers to stop whining and start designing. If you’re not a part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. The point is that lifestyle has a negative impact on the environment simply because when we conceived it we weren’t aware of the side-effects. It’s not our manufacturing process or our transport systems need to have certain side effects – it’s that these side effects weren’t factored into the original design. Therefore the question of pollution isn’t a political or a moral question, it’s a design challenge . . . one that every designer has the ability to change.


Kai-Uwe Bergmann is a Partner at BIG who brings his expertise to proposals around the globe, including work in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Kai-Uwe heads up BIG’s business development which currently has the office working in over 15 different countries. In addition to these duties, Kai-Uwe is also Head of Communications. Registered as an architect in the USA, UK and Denmark, Kai-Uwe is also a LEED AP certified architect who was Project Manager upon Central Asia's first Carbon Neutral Master Plan - Zira Island in Baku, Azerbaijan. Alongside his architectural practice, Kai-Uwe has been active as a Visiting Instructor at IE University’s School of Architecture and Design Management in Madrid and has acted as a juror in many national and international prizes.


BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group is a New York, Copenhagen and Beijing based group of architects, designers and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. BIG has created a reputation for completing buildings that are as programmatically and technically innovative as they are cost and resource conscious. In our architectural production we demonstrate a high sensitivity to the particular demands of site context and program. BIG’s recently completed projects include The Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (2010) and The 8 House (2010) being recently distinguished with a National AIA Honor Award and Wall Street Journal’s Innovator of the Year Prize . Projects being designed in North America, include the New York City based 600 unit West 57th Tower designed for Durst Fetner Residential which will break ground in the Spring of 2012 and the forthcoming Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah.

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