Eight years ago Danish architect Bjarke Ingels came up with a fantastical idea — putting a ski slope on a power plant. Well, now, it’s actually happening — the $660 million Amager Bakke is preparing to welcome brave ski bunnies in Copenhagen. Affectionately known to locals as Copenhill, this cutting-edge renewable energy system coverts waste into energy while giving sports lovers access to a 2,000-feet-long ski slope, a 295-feet-high climbing wall, and hiking and running paths. The new artificial hill is the most visible demonstration yet of Copenhagen’s determination to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025.
According to Babcock & Wilcox Vølund, the engineers of the power plant, Copenhill will convert 400,000 tons of waste each year into heat for 250,000 homes and energy for another 62,500, all the while producing zero toxic air pollution. Some 100,000 pounds of ash collected from the waste incineration process will be reused to build roads; and some 90 percent of the metals in the waste stream will be salvaged.
Two ski lifts take visitors up to the slope, which allow for all types of skiing — alpine and racing — along with snowblading and snowboarding. On the Copenhill website, one can already reserve a time to snowplow or slalom down the slopes for about $20 an hour. Visitors can also rent equipment, take a ski class, or join SKI365, the building’s ski club. The big plus: because the slope is built using specialized artificial turf, people will be able to ski up there year round.
Translating their website from Danish, it’s clear they’ve tried to design the space for everyone: “If you a beginner, a shark on skis, free-styler, fun skier, man, woman, boy, girl, thick, thin, tall or short, then you are part of the community. We have something for everyone. There are both red / black, blue, and green courses. In addition, there is also a slalom course, free-style park, and, of course, an area for the smallest.”
For those who avoid skiing, there are paths sloping from 5-35 percent where one can walk up or take a heart-pounding run. Bjarke Ingels’ firm BIG and landscape architects with SLA planted more than 30 trees in landscaped areas. There, Copenhill invites you to “take a picnic in the shrubbery or just enjoy the view on one of the reclining benches.” There’s also a club for these enthusiasts — RUN365, with crossfit training options for members.
The facility replaces an older power plant, and the cost is shared by the five municipalities who will sell Copenhill’s heat and power. But according to Bloomberg, the city government perhaps thinks it’s the tourism money — more than the heat or power — that will end up offsetting a larger share of the cost of the new plant. Situated just 13 minutes from the airport, it will be hard for first-time visitors — particularly those with kids — to avoid making a stop.
According to an interview with BIG in Inhabitat, the building is expected to blow CO2 “smoke” rings at some point. The technology apparently works — they are now fine-tuning.