Making Radical Change Real: Danish Sustainability, Adaptability, and the Reimagination of Architectural Utopias | Alex Ramiller, Patrick Schmidt | Utopian Studies

Utopianism faded in the postmodern era as a source of inspiration for architecture, just as it declined as a source of literary and political ideas. Theorists have attempted to create space for its return by reenvisioning its requirements. The discourse of sustainability provides the most promising window, and a combination of environmental, social, and economic concerns has given rise to a generation of Danish architects who claim to be the inheritors of the utopian tradition. This article examines the work of two leading firms, the Bjarke Ingels Group and 3XN, and assesses their work and ambition against recent theoretical horizons. In this light, we critique Bjarke Ingels Group’s invocation of utopianism but find in 3XN the hallmarks of architectural utopianism. This inquiry points out just how demanding and elusive sustainability is but, in so doing, reinforces why sustainability is fertile ground for the return of the utopian imagination to the architectural field.

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