bjarke ingels group's copenhill power plant opens in copenhagen

bjarke ingels group's copenhill power plant opens in copenhagen

‘copenhill’, a transformed power plant in copenhagen, denmark, has officially opened to the public. designed by BIG-bjarke ingels group and landscape architecture firm SLA, the project — also known as ‘amager bakke’ — is a waste-to-energy plant with an environmental education hub and an urban recreation center comprising a ski slope, a hiking trail, and a climbing wall. ‘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 — its façade is climbable, its roof is hikeable, and its slopes are skiable,’ says bjarke ingels.

image by laurian ghinitoiu (main image by aldo amoretti)



the project has been conceived as a piece of public infrastructure with ‘intended social side-effects’. replacing the adjacent plant with amager ressourcecenter (ARC), copenhill’s new facilities integrate the latest technologies in waste treatment and energy production. due to its location on the industrial waterfront, where raw industrial facilities have become the site for extreme sports, from wakeboarding to go-kart racing, the new power plant adds skiing, hiking, and rock climbing to the growing list of recreational activities.

image by dragoer luftfoto



the project, which broke ground in 2013, was designed by BIG and SLA alongside engineering firms AKT, lüchinger+meyer, MOE, and rambøll. aligning with copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025, the scheme embodies bjarke ingels’ idea of ‘hedonistic sustainability’ — a notion that a sustainable city is not only better for the environment, it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.

image by laurian ghinitoiu



‘the internal volumes of the power plant are determined by the precise positioning and organization of its machinery in height order, creating an efficient, sloping rooftop fit for a 9,000 square-meter ski terrain,’ BIG explains. ‘at the top, experts can glide down the artificial ski slope with the same length as an olympic half-pipe, test the freestyle park or try the timed slalom course, while beginners and kids practice on the lower slopes. skiers ascend the park from the platter lift, carpet lifts or glass elevator for a glimpse inside the 24-hour operations of a waste-to-plant.’

image by SLA



for visitors who aren’t taking to the slopes, other on-site facilities include a rooftop bar, a cross-fit area, and a climbing wall. the project also includes the highest viewing plateau in the city and a tree-lined hiking and running trail designed by SLA. this green roof also helps create a biodiverse landscape that simultaneously absorbs heat, removes air particulates, and minimizes stormwater runoff.

image by SLA



‘copenhill’s nature roof park and hiking trail invites locals and visitors to traverse a mountainous landscape of plants, rockscapes, 7,000 bushes and 300 pine and willow trees atop the world’s cleanest waste-to-energy plant,’ says rasmus astrup, partner & design principal, SLA. ‘it also 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.’

image by rasmus hjortshoj



in addition to the machinery required to convert 440,000 tons of waste annually into clean energy for 150,000 homes, the building also houses ten floors of administrative space for the ARC team, including a education center for academic tours, workshops, and sustainability conferences. ‘we are very proud to have built the most energy efficient waste-to-energy plant in the world,’ adds jacob simonsen, managing director, ARC. ‘at the same time the plant delivers the best environmental performance with hardly any environmental emissions, enabling us to have neighbors only 200 meters away and to be located less than 2km from the queen’s residence.’

image by rasmus hjortshoj



the building’s façade comprises stacked aluminum bricks, with integrated glazing positioned to allow daylight inside. the longest vertical façade boasts an 85-meter-tall (280 ft) climbing wall that offers views inside the factory. finally, at the bottom of the ski slope, an après-ski bar allows locals and visitors alike to wind down after a day on the slope.

image by soren aagaard



‘we wanted to do more than just create a beautiful skin around the factory. we wanted to add functionality,’ says david zahle, partner, BIG. ‘by proposing a new breed of waste-to-energy plant, one that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, the facility becomes part of the city and redefines the relationship between production and recreation, between energy infrastructure and social infrastructure, between factory and city.’

image by soren aagaard



‘to me copenhill is a perfect example of the world-changing power of architecture,’ says bjarke ingels. ‘that we have the power to give form to the future that we want to live in. my son turns one next month — he won’t ever remember that there was a time when you couldn’t ski on the roof of the power plant — or climb its facades. he will take that for granted — and so will his entire generation. clean energy and skiable power plants is going be the baseline of their imagination — the platform from which they will leap and propose new and wild ideas for their future. standing at the peak of this human-made mountain that we have spent the last decade creating — makes me curious and excited to see what ideas this summit may spark in the minds of future generations.’ see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

image by aldo amoretti

image by laurian ghinitoiu



project info:


name: copenhill / amager bakke
type: international competition
size: 41,000 sqm / 441,300 sqf
location: copenhagen, denmark
client: amager ressourcecenter
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. møller fonden, lokale og anlægsfonden, nordea fonden, fonden R98, københavns kommune, frederiksberg kommune, tårnby kommune, dragør kommune og hvidovre kommune


BIG–bjarke ingels group
partners-in-charge: bjarke ingels, david zahle, jakob lange, brian yang
project leader: jesper boye andersen, nanna gyldholm møller, claus hermansen
team: alberto cumerlato, aleksander wadas, alexander codda, alexander ejsing, alexandra gustafsson, alina tamosiunaite, armor gutierrez, anders hjortnæs, andreas klok pedersen, annette jensen, ariel wallner, ask andersen, balaj iiulian, blake smith, borko nikolic, brygida zawadzka, buster christensen, chris falla, chris zhongtian yuan, daniel selensky, dennis rasmussen, espen vik, finn nørkjær, franck fdida, gonzalo castro, gül ertekin, george abraham, helen chen, henrick poulsen, henrik rømer kania, horia spirescu, jakob ohm laursen, jelena vucic, jeppe ecklon, ji-young yoon, jing xu, joanna jakubowska, johanna nenander, kamilla heskje, katarzyna siedlecka, krzysztof marciszewski, laura wätte, liang wang, lise jessen, long zuo, maciej zawadzki, mads enggaard stidsen, marcelina kolasinska, marcos bano, maren allen, mathias bank, matti nørgaard, michael andersen, narisara ladawal schröder, niklas a. rasch, nynne madsen, øssur nolsø, pero vukovic, richard howis, ryohei koike, se hyeon kim, simon masson, sunming lee, toni mateu, xing xiong, zoltan david kalaszi, tore banke, yehezkiel wiliardy

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