BIG is a Copenhagen- and New York-based group of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development.
When you first look at this project you think, “Oh, okay, nice.” But once you look closer you say “What. The. Fuck?!”
I love how the idea of a building as mountain is addressed here. Wait—what? Not only is it a an architectural landmark, but it's also a ski slope and a beacon for a more energy-focused future in Copenhagen; it's the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world and is located in the heart of downtown Copenhagen. It allows sustainability to be a far more accessible topic of conversation.
“The new plant is an example of what we at BIG call Hedonistic Sustainability: the idea that sustainability is not a burden, but that a sustainable city can improve our quality of life. The Waste-to-Energy plant with a ski slope is the best example of a city and a building which is both ecologically, economically and socially sustainable,” says Bjarke Ingels, founder and partner of BIG.
A Ski Slope for a Roof
Denmark’s topography is as flat as a pancake, meaning that the most popular form of skiing is cross-country. Because the roof of this building doubles as a ski slope, it's not only the epicenter of the city for its architectural presence, but for its entertainment value.
The roof is accessible from an elevator that runs along a large smoke stack situated alongside the building. It has three ski runs for varying degrees of skill levels.
The thinking behind this is so sharp, and it's poking fun at so many things, that it swings everything around to make it not only relevant and contemporary, but a talking point for anyone from the curious tourist to the architectural aficionado. The notion of architecture as a means of public engagement has never been so relevant, especially with an example like this that's so sustainability focused.
The Smoke Rings
This Copenhagen power plant is the single largest environmental initiative in Denmark. It will function as a treatment facility that transforms waste into energy. The building acts as a beacon of awareness to the surrounding areas, literally. Upon the release of a ton of CO2, the long smokestack overlooking the ski slope will expel smoke rings that are 30 meters in diameter. During the day it's visible as a cloud of smoke, but at night the projection is mapped and subsequently illuminated by lasers. Lasers! All in all, it's a constant reminder to the people of Copenhagen of the impact of consumption.
This is the cleanest waste-to-energy building in the world, and quite obviously shows it. Its vertical green façade is formed with large plant modules stacked like bricks; once again, the lines between building and mountain are crossed. It looks like a mountain or natural object in so many ways, but also acts like one, and it works to inhabit the notions of "green" while also redefining a way of thinking about sustainability—a true testament to the success of this project, in my eyes.