Bjarke Ingels is the go-to golden boy for Big Tech and now Brazils Bolsonaro wants a bit of his magic. But should architects boycott oppressive leaders? Do their buildings glorify their ideology?
Sun-kissed walkways in the sky, platefuls of seafood ceviche, a private helicopter pickup from the beach the Instagram account of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has unfolded like an escapist travelogue epic in recent weeks, as his adventures in Latin America have taken their place in his dizzying globetrotting itinerary. But there is one photograph he hasnt been so keen to share with his 730,000 followers: of him standing next to Jair Bolsonaro, Brazils far-right president, with the uneasy smile of a man whos just secured his latest big commission from another unsavoury despot, in this case one who has boasted of being proudly homophobic.
According to a statement from Brazils ministry of tourism, Ingels visited Brazil to tour several states and discuss strategies for developing sustainable tourism on its north-east coast, in partnership with the Nmade Group, which recently built an eco-conscious luxury resort in Tulum, the ruins of a Mayan walled city in Mexico.
Theyve pioneered this incredible barefoot light-impact environment, says Ingels, speaking by phone from Santiago in Chile. Its a model of tourism development that doesnt replace the forest or the sand, but strengthens and preserves it. Its a very welcome alternative to the kind of high-rise hotels that spring up on the beach in many places.