One architecture firm has a unique idea to breathe fresh air into a waste-to-energy plant on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) envisions that the plant, Amagerforbraending, will be more than a large, boxy structure; by taking on the unlikely form of a ski hill, the plant will also serve as a recreation and travel destination.
The new plant will replace the current 40-year-old waste-to-energy plant and, with a budget of 3.5 billion DKK ($650 million), will be among the largest environmental initiatives in Denmark’s history. Slated for completion in 2016, the facility will have a roof that will be transformed into a 333,681-square-foot ski area with slopes for skiers of varying levels. Under BIG’s design, one end of the building will be lifted to integrate the incinerator’s smokestack into the facility’s overall architecture, while the opposite end will sit closer to the ground to minimize the building’s volume. The slope from top to bottom will feature almost a mile of ski runs, plus a terrain park.
Both indoor and outdoor alpine ski resorts may have a reputation for being energy intensive, but BIG’s proposal is ecological and the slope will be constructed using a recycled synthetic granular material. Skiers will access the slope via an elevator opposite the smokestack that will have a glass wall to grant them views into the plant on their way to a 328-foot-tall platform. That platform will stand as one of the tallest points in Copenhagen.
The smokestack will be engineered to remind Danes of their carbon footprint. Though smokestacks, with their constant emissions, generally are regarded as a symbol of the past, this particular one vows to symbolize the future. It will puff smoke rings 98 feet in diameter whenever 1 ton of fossil carbon dioxide is released, serving more as a reminder of environmental impact than a celebration of releasing CO2. A brainchild of Berlin-based art studio realities:united, the smoke rings will form through the condensation of water in the flue gases. At night, heat tracking will be used to position laser light on the smoke rings.
Perhaps one of Amagerforbraending’s most distinguishing characteristics is that the façade will be attractive and fit the building. The entire structure will be wrapped in a vertical façade formed by planter modules stacked like bricks. With its white topping, the facility will resemble a mountain from afar. The surrounding area will be sculpted by the Berlin-based firms Topotek 1 and Man Made Land to form a park to offer activities such as cable skiing, go-karting, sailing, and rock climbing. A field of hills mimicking a mogul trail (as seen in the foreground above) will lie on the western border, and a path system through the park will connect the site with the neighboring residential area to integrate Amagerforbraending into the community.