A collaboration led by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has announced that it's been selected to design a new waste-to-power station on the outskirts of Copenhagen. In an attempt to unify an industrial area and residential housing, the project will turn the vast roofing expanse of the power station into an Alpine ski resort. Skiers will begin their downward journey from the top of the smokestack, which will also pump out smoke rings every time a ton of carbon dioxide is produced to remind citizens of the impact of power consumption.
The radical design is being prepared for a waste-to-energy and recycling company called Amagerforbrænding, which already operates an incineration plant that converts the waste from five districts into electricity and heating. The team is made up of BIG, realities:united, AKT, Topotek 1, Man Made Land and the Glessner Group, and aims to redefine the simple, box-shaped power plant where the purpose of the outer walls is simply to hide the operations within.
The designers want to add both form and functionality to the structure. All of the machinery will still be contained within the main building, but this will be extended and lowered on one side to include an area for administration and for a visitor center. One end of the structure will be raised to meet the top of the smokestack of the power plant, and an elevator will be installed that runs up to the top. The inside wall of the elevator will be made from glass, so that visitors can take a look at the inner workings of the plant on their way up.
The rooftop area will be reshaped to form a 1,500 square meter (4,921 sq ft) artificial ski slope with three different runs to accommodate varying ability. The outer facade of the 95,000 square meter (311,679 sq ft) building will feature green planting boxes to give a distant green mountain appearance, which will of course be topped by a white "snow" covering. The power plant ski run will form part of a bigger recreational development where visitors will be able to enjoy activities such as karting, sailing and rock climbing.
The designers also propose modifying the power plant's smokestack to make the production of CO2 a little more open and easily understood. Every time a ton of carbon dioxide is produced, a smoke ring will be released from the smokestack. This is said to be achieved by a piston pushing smoke into an upper chamber before releasing the ring at the prescribed moment.
BIG hasn't given any hint of a likely build schedule, but I have to say that having once lived just down the road from a municipal waste incinerator, I don't think that I would relish visiting one for recreation.
I realize that waste-to-energy technology has come a long way since 1975 when that monstrosity was opened, but it will be very interesting to see if the Danish public go for the somewhat bizarre notion of creating a leisure center around a waste-burning power plant situated in the midst of an industrial landscape. It's an ambitious gamble and we'll be keeping an eye on developments.