Regeneration

Power to the people

BIG’s CopenHill urban ski centre-come-waste incinerator has finally opened, acting as a step towards Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral capital city. Magali Robathan takes a look


Read on turning pages | Download PDF | sign up to CLAD

It was an idea that caught the imagination of the press and the public – a ski slope on the roof of a power plant that simultaneously provides clean electricity and enables residents of Copenhagen to ski and snowboard in a country with no mountains.

After years of waiting – I first wrote about the project in early 2011 – Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) CopenHill power plant-come-ski centre opened in a former industrial area on the outskirts of Copenhagen in October.

It seems to perfectly represent Bjarke Ingels’ concept of hedonistic sustainability – the idea that rather than having to give up the things we love to be greener, sustainable design can actually increase our quality of life. Amager Bakke is said to be one of the world’s cleanest power stations and is part of Copenhagen’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025, incinerating waste and cleaning the smoke created to produce electricity for around 30,000 households and central heating for 72,000 households.

While power plants tend to be functional, devoid of architectural merit and hidden away on the outskirts of cities, BIG had the idea of bringing Amager Bakke to life for the people of Copenhagen by turning it into a leisure destination.

BIG teamed up with Danish landscape architects SLA to design the centre, with Lüchinger+Meyer, MOE and Rambøll providing engineering services.

The centre is 85m (280ft) high at its summit, and has a 450m (1,480ft) ski slope running down its roof with a freestyle park, slalom course and beginners area. CopenHill also has an 85m climbing wall – the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall, according to the architects – 500m (1,640ft) trail for hiking or running, a restaurant on the building’s rooftop terrace and a ski centre at the base with an apres ski bar and ski equipment store.

The rooftop is accessible to the public for free via ski lifts, a glass elevator that provides views of the plant’s futuristic-looking interiors or the hiking trail.

How the idea was born
It’s such a perfect BIG project – the practice is known for its tendency to mash up seemingly different typologies to create something entirely new – that it may seem as though the project was carefully planned, but BIG partner Brian Yang told me that the building was the result of a flash of inspiration during the competition stage.

“It was born from the sheer anxiety of having to submit something brilliant in a very short timescale,” he said.

“We didn’t have a scheme until about two weeks before the [competition] submission date. We sat down with the team to discuss what the hell we were going to do. Someone mentioned the fact that Denmark is flat and that Danes drive three hours to Sweden to ski there and Bjarke [Ingels] said: ‘We have to do a ski slope on top of the factory.’ I remember that moment – all of a sudden the energy in the room turned.”

Eight years on, Bjarke Ingels – who led the project along with Brian Yang, David Zahle and Jakob Lange – described the project in his own highly quotable style.

“As a power plant, CopenHill is so clean that we have been able to turn its building mass into the bedrock of the social life of the city,” he said. “Its façade is climbable, its roof is hikeable and its slopes are skiable. A crystal clear example of Hedonistic Sustainability – that a sustainable city is not only better for the environment – it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.

“CopenHill is a blatant architectural expression of something that would otherwise have remained invisible: that it is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world.”

The building is clad in 1.2m x 3.3m wide aluminium blocks stacked like giant bricks, with glazed windows allowing daylight to penetrate deep into the facility. The longest vertical façade is home to the 85m climbing wall, while the 490m tree-lined hiking and running trail runs through a “lush, mountainous terrain” designed by landscape architects SLA that aims to rewild the landscape while absorbing heat and removing air particulates.

Rasmus Astrup, partner and design principal at SLA, said of the landscaping: “It acts as a generous ‘green gift’ that will radically green-up the adjacent industrial area. CopenHill becomes the home for birds, bees, butterflies, and flowers, creating a vibrant green pocket and forming a completely new urban ecosystem for the city of Copenhagen.”

THE LANDSCAPING
From the landscape architect:

SLA’s design of a green rooftop park for Copenhagen’s new waste-to-energy plant combines hiking trails, playgrounds, vantage points, climbing walls and street fitness – along with a ski slope designed by BIG. All of it is created within a wild and sensuous mountain nature with plants, rockscapes, bushes and 130 trees. The use of the steep pitched roof places high demands on the plant and landscape design. With SLA’s solution, the challenges have been solved through a range of nature-based design solutions and 1:1 tests of vegetation and materials. The planting is specially chosen to meet the challenging living conditions and create optimal micro climate and wind conditions. The result is a lush and robust design that provides visitors with the opportunity to use the park all year round and a sensuous and varied environment.

The rooftop park is designed to attract and shelter a wide selection of birds, bees, butterflies and insects, which will mean a dramatic increase in the biodiversity of the area. Utilising natural pollination and seed dispersal, the rooftop’s nature can also spread and benefit the adjacent industry area, parking lots and infrastructure. In this way, Amager Bakke will function as a generous ‘green bomb’ that will radically green-up the entire area.

Source: www.sla.dk

The ski area features an 450m-long slope, slalom park, freestyle park and beginners area on the lower slopes Photo: Justin Hummerston
PROJECT DETAILS

Project: CopenHill/Amager Bakke

Size: 41,000sq m

Client: Amager Resource Center

BIG partners-in-charge: Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle, Jakob Lange, Brian Yang

Collaborators: Detailed Design: SLA, Lüchinger+Meyer, MOE, Rambøll, Jesper Kongshaug and BIG Ideas

Competition: AKT, Topotek 1, Man Made Land, Realities:United

Thanks to: A.P Moller Fonden, Lokale- og Anlaegsfonden, Nordea Fonden, Fonden R98, Københavns Kommune, Frederiksberg Kommune, Tårnby Kommune, Dragør Kommune og Hvidovre Kommune

Visitors arriving at the foot of the slope by bike
Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: DJW
DJW offer a way to interpret your story through the use of technology. We can provide Audio Visual consultancy to assist in the planning stage, follow up with AV system design, supply and installation, and provide a bespoke control system to suit your operational needs.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards is housed in 35 Hudson Yards, a tower building designed by SOM’s David Childs
"Further hotels have been confirmed for Los Angeles, Santa Clara, CA, Seattle, Chicago and Houston"

Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang on the inspirations behind the guest rooms, public spaces, spa and gym at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards

Three flights of wide steps invite the visitor into the building.
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Roosegaarde’s first major solo museum exhibition explores the idea of ‘presence’
"I want to demonstrate that creativity is our true capital as humans "

Rather than feeling fearful and helpless about the future, we must design a way out of the environmental problems we have created, argues the innovative Dutch designer, artist and inventor Daan Roosegaarde

Collaboration is at the heart of NBW’s working practices
Thomas Woltz
"I am very proud of stewarding the largest public space to be built in Manhattan in a century"

The Wall Street Journal’s Design Innovator of the Year on designing the gardens at Hudson Yards and looking to the Native Americans for ideas on how to create a resilient future

Landscape design: Back to nature
Alan Metcalfe
"When people are a bit scared, they gather together"

Featuring a vibrating glass platform and one of the US’s longest tree canopy walks, Whiting Forest has been designed to bring visitors closer to nature and to one another

features
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

The spa and fitness centre on the 57th floor end in an infinity-edge pool with views across Philadelphia
Dana Kalczak
"If we had focused entirely on high tech in the hotel, the artistry we normally strive for would have been compromised"

Four Seasons’ vice president of design speaks to CLAD about working with Norman Foster and creating magical moments

The architects Dean Mackenzie and Hamish Monk
"We’ve designed the space so that the atmosphere is intimate"

Les Mills’ new studio spaces at its iconic Auckland City Gym showcase a trend away from masculine ‘grunty’ gyms to something altogether different

cladkit product news
Tom Dixon Rock collection inspired by Dixon's travels to India
The Rock collection is made with green marble and was inspired by Tom Dixon's travels to India
Lauren Heath-Jones
British designer studio, Tom Dixon Studio has launched a new collection of marble sculptures inspired by his frequent trips to ...
Naval architect launches solar-powered floating pods
The Anthénea pod is a luxury floating suite that could be used as a spa or treatment suite
Lauren Heath-Jones
Naval architect Jean-Michel Ducancelle has designed a solar-powered floating hotel suite aimed at offering an eco-friendly and nomadic place for ...
Tino Seubert x Theodora Alfredsdottir lighting collection inspired by mid-century furniture making traditions
The Corrugation Lights were inspired by midcentury and post-war furniture making techniques
London-based designers Tino Seubert and Theodora Alfredsdottir have teamed up to create Corrugation Lights, a lighting collection inspired by midcentury ...
cladkit product news
Canteen collection combines nostalgia with modern aesthetics
The Canteen collection was inspired by post-war British design techniques
Lauren Heath-Jones
Very Good & Proper (VG&P), a British furniture brand, has curated a new dining collection that combines traditional woodworking techniques ...
John Pomp Studios expands Tidal collection
The Eclipse Pendant light was inspired by the lunar eclipse
Lauren Heath-Jones
John Pomp Studios, a design practice based in Philadelphia in the US, has expanded its Tidal collection to include five ...
Arlon Graphics debuts architectural collection
Arlon's architectural range is aimed at interior designers looking for innovative and affordable renovation solutions
Lauren Heath-Jones
Arlon Graphics, a plastic and vinyl manufacturer based in The Netherlands, has launched a range of architectural graphic vinyl films ...
cladkit product news
Space Popular creates video installation for the Gwangmyeongmun Gate in South Korea
Gate of Bright Lights was designed to show visitors how screens and digital interfaces have replaced physical objects the gateway between us and the rest of the world.
Lauren Heath-Jones
Multidisciplinary design firm Space Popular has created a video installation for the Gwangmyeongmun Gate at the Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, ...
ZHD'S MEW Coffee Table explores relationship between surface and structure
The MEW Coffee Table is described as an investigation into the relationship between surface and structure
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with Italian furniture design firm Sawaya & Moroni to create the Mew Coffee Table. The ...
Pelle DVN Table inspired by traditional Japanese carpentry
The DVN Table was created using Japanese joinery techniques
Lauren Heath-Jones
Jean and Oliver Pelle, the husband and wife team behind New York-based design studio Pelle, have created the DVN Table, ...
x
Email this to a friend or colleague
I am happy for Leisure Media to contact me occasionally by email and understand that I can opt out at any time.
Regeneration: Power to the people
How a power station became one of Copenhagen's hottest leisure destinations... the team at BIG tells the hidden story of @copenhill @BjarkeIngels @bigstertweets