Home > Decoration Cases > BIG’s Bjarke Ingels on His Singular Vision for CopenHill—the Power Plant–Ski Slope

BIG’s Bjarke Ingels on His Singular Vision for CopenHill—the Power Plant–Ski Slope

by Rick Anderson

When it opens this fall, Copenhagen’s Amager Resource Center—also known as ARC Power Plant or CopenHill—will not only be the cleanest and most efficient waste-to-energy facility in the world, but also the only one you’ll likely see trending on Instagram. After all, it’s not every day you find a power plant with a ski slope, hiking trail, and climbing wall on its roof or a sleek façade made from stacked aluminum bricks. Inside, the building is equipped to convert 400,000 tons of waste each year, which will provide heat for 150,000 households and low-carbon electricity for 550,000 people. Renowned architecture firm BIG, headed up by Bjarke Ingels , is the mastermind behind the project, having won the bid in a design contest thanks to its forward-thinking artificial mountain. But despite the sky-high recreational options (not to mention a café and killer city views), the plant's primary function is to harvest local resources like rainwater, daylight, and natural airflows and transform waste into energy. According to Ingels, the plant is “economically, environmentally, and socially profitable—a perfect example of what we call hedonistic sustainability!”

Asked about the unusual decision to include a ski slope on the roof, Ingels tells AD : “The ski slope idea came from realizing that Copenhagen has a cold climate with several months of snow, but absolutely no mountains. Copenhageners have to travel several hours by car to reach the ski slopes in Sweden. However, once Amager Resource Center is completed this fall, it will be possible to ski all year round. The roof is not only going to function as a ski slope, but as a real mountain with a green forest area, a hiking trail, and climbing walls—all while allowing spectacular views of the city skyline.”

And of the lasting import of this facility’s design, the BIG founding partner explains: “It is, to date, the closest thing we have achieved in realizing the vision of designing our cities and buildings as man-made ecosystems. Because not only does the waste-to-energy plant harvest local resources—rainwater, daylight, natural airflows—it forms an urban metabolism with the city of Copenhagen, converting its waste into a rich energy reserve to supply roughly half of the Danish capital with energy.”

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