BIG's First Step into the Final Frontier

Courtesy BIG

A reflective sphere floats above a highway outside Stockholm in BIG's winning "Energy Valley" master plan (Courtesy BIG).

BIG won’t let its ambitions be impeded by the laws of physics–namely, gravity. For a competition to plan and design the area around the Hjulsta Intersection, a massive highway infrastructure project just north of Stockholm, BIG teamed up with firms Grontji and Spacescape to create “Energy Valley,” and their winning master plan addresses not only the area around the highway interchange but also above it. The plan’s surreal defining feature is “a reflective, self‐sustaining hovering sphere mirroring Stockholm as it is, new and old, creating a 180 degree view of the area for the drivers on their way in or out of the city.”

Covered with photovoltaic film and tethered to the ground, this mysterious giant orb would supposedly generate enough solar and wind power to keep itself aloft while also providing power for over 200 surrounding houses.

Courtesy BIG

A man-made valley incorporates diverse natural environments; all would be reflected in the giant floating sphere (Courtesy BIG).

The orb floats above a man-made valley that incorporates a variety of natural environments, from forests to wetlands. “The Energy Valley is a cross‐over between urbanism, landscape, architecture, art, and infrastructure into a new neighborhood of Stockholm. Harnessing the momentum of the massive investment in tunnels and highways and putting the excess excavation to use as a man‐made valley, we create an interdisciplinary hybrid of logistic, economic, environmental and social infrastructure,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. Oh, yes, there’s a bike path, too.

In the invited competition BIG beat out the Norwegian landscape firm Snøhetta, Danish landscape architect Kristine Jensen, and the Swedish firm Erik Giudice Architects.

The scheme certainly fits Ingels’ “hedonistic sustainability” approach, but if this fantastical idea actually comes to pass, we’re betting his future work will leave earth behind altogether for the final frontier.

Courtesy BIG

Covered in photovoltaic film to capture solar energy, the "Stockholm Sphere" would power surrounding houses (Courtesy BIG).

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