Bjarke Ingles Group’s (BIG) Urban Rigger made with ARCKIT

“…the only constant in the universe is change…we have the power to adapt to change and we have the power to give form to our future.” - Bjarke Ingels

Last month, Bjarke Ingels, a world-renown Danish Architect and Founder/Creative Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) presented an inspiring Ted Talk [Insert Hyperlink Over ”Ted Talk” Text] sharing his firm’s most recent updates on one of their smallest projects, Urban Rigger, and how it has become a foundational model for future floating cities. Using Arckit, our revolutionary, to scale, architectural modelling making tool that mimics modern, modular construction techniques, we’ve recreated our very own Urban Rigger model! Based on a 1.2m or 4ft grid with real-world proportions, modelling modern forms and container architecture is extremely easy and efficient. With ARCKIT, designs like Urban Rigger are just the beginning for what could be built with our professional-level design tool!

Being first designed as a Danish affordable housing startup, Urban Rigger was built primarily in response to Copenhagen's student housing shortage with the basic concept of having apartment complexes float along the city's underdeveloped harbour. Assembled off-site in Poland and pulled to dock into a destination, the Urban Rigger concept is a highly modular and iterative system where a buoyant structural/mechanical platforms can be stacked with mini apartments creating a unified and self-dependent complex. Each apartment unit is made using a single shipping container and between 9-12 can be laid out and stacked on each buoyant platform. This system allows whole complexes to be quickly manufactured with the possibilities of being able to chained complexes together with for future expansion depending on demand.

Over the past three years, the initial single prototype in Copenhagen has expanded to 12 whole complexes each housing 9+ people. Another 60 complexes are scheduled to arrive to meet the demands for 650+ residents with hundreds more being sent to other cities. With requests from all over the world, BIG plans to build upwards of 18,000 complexes in the next 10 years!


Breaking the construction process down, each complex is first created by building a buoyant platform that is mostly submerged below the sea level and capable of housing all of the MEP equipment. Three shipping containers are placed in a triangular fashion on top of the buoyant platform, creating an interior courtyard and social gather space in the centre. This optimized arrangement gives views for each of the apartment units while maximizing the open and available floor area. In fact, the ends of the containers do not actually meet and instead are spaced out in two separate hyper-truncated triangle patterns forming an overall hexagonal shape. This specific program allows for the ease of future expansions and the ability to daisy-chain multiple complexes together. Another layer of six total containers, creating the second floor, is added in the same fashion as the first floor below but, offset 60 degrees from centre completing the complex. The finished complex or "Urban Rigger" is about 680 square meters in occupiable floor area, providing the residents with communal access to a green courtyard, kayak landing, bathing platform, barbecue area, roof terrace and their own apartment!


To meet the carbon-neutral requirement and sustainable development goals of the United Nations, each complex is independently powered to be entirely off-grid and self-sufficient with the combination by solar energy and a hydro based system that uses heat exchange mechanics from the seawater. The container structures themselves use a NASA created "aerogel" to insulate the interiors. All throughout the complex, there are special hyper-efficient pumps installed to control and manage the heating, circulating, drinking and wastewater. 



Today, waterfronts around major cities are experiencing a lot of change. It is estimated that by 2050, upwards of 90% of major cities will have to deal with rising/dynamic sea levels. BIG plans to expand upon the Urban Rigger concept and develop larger floating colonies to create a whole new human-made ecosystem with independent energy production, farming, waste management and hidden methods to regenerate natural habitats. BIG's design definitely lends itself well in proving to be a unique way of not only addressing affordable housing but, our increasing problems of urban density, real estate values and global sea-level rise. Our ARCKIT team wishes them the best of luck with this amazing initiative and look forward to seeing it cultivate over time!

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All Urban Rigger renderings and photos above are licensed and copyrighted property of BIG at and