Denmark is known for its commitment to sustainable living. Only 4 percent of the waste in the country, for example, goes to landfills, with 42 percent being recycled and 54 percent being turned into energy. Now, a Danish company is not only setting new standards for environmental performance, but also redefining the relationship between industrial facilities and the people who live near them. 

Amager Bakke / Copenhill is a waste-to-energy plant located in Copenhagen that, with its reconstruction, will forge a brand-new relationship with the city. Namely, the plant will become a skiing destination for the citizens of Copenhagen. BIG, the architectural studio that has come up with the concept, is the brainchild of Bjarke Ingels, famous for his unique, sustainable, and community-driven projects.

 “Instead of considering Amager Resource Center as an isolated project, we mobilize the architecture and intensify the relationship between the building and the city — expanding the existing activities in the area by turning the roof of the new Amager Resource Center into a ski slope for the citizens of Copenhagen. We propose a new breed of waste-to-energy plant, one that is economically, environmentally, and socially profitable,” explains the architectural team.

Citizens will be able to ski all year round on an ecological, artificial slope with three different levels of difficulty. In addition, there will be a terrain park featuring forest areas, hike trails, climbing walls, and possibly a mountain bike trail. 

 

As impressive as the looks of the plant will be, there is more to it than meets the eye. The plant will set new standards in sustainable energy production and recycling. When the facility is completed in 2017, it will process 400,000 tonnes of waste per year with 99 percent energy efficiency — water, metal, and even ash will be recycled. It will provide district heating for 160,000 homes and electricity for 62,500 homes.

Citizens will be able to ski all year round on an ecological, artificial slope with three different levels of difficulty.

”It is a multi-purpose plant that is already catching the eyes of the world because of its local appeal. The plant provides energy and waste treatment, and will be an architectural landmark and a leisure facility. The novelty of the project is the combination of ingenious technology and innovative architecture in a project dedicated [to the] local community,” says Ole Hedegaard Madsen, director of technology and marketing at Babcock & Wilcox Vølund.

One last touch, meant to keep the public aware of their carbon footprint, will be a smoke ring coming out of the factory chimney every time the plant releases a ton of carbon dioxide. 

Photos: BIG Architectural Studio