Brain Post: Denmark Power-plant Houses Man-made Ski Resort on Roof

Bevan Waite | | BrainsBrains

Skip to 14:00 to hear Bjarke Ingles talk about his Waste Plant made Ski Resort presently under construction.  He’s a witty guy, a genius, and a starchitect.

Proposed design.
Proposed design.

A lust for mountains and the recreational activities associated with them is shared even by cultures residing in places flatter than a pancake.  An example of this mutual desire for mountainous activities is seen when Danish starchitect, Bjarke Ingles, describes his concept of “Hedonistic Sustainability” through a new building project in Copenhagen, Denmark: an energy plant — ski resort hybrid.

“We thought, if Copenhagen doesn’t have real mountains, at least we have mountains of trash.  So why don’t we transplant one of the Swedish ski slopes and put it on top of the (trash) factory?”  Ingles explains comically.

Visual explanation of Bjarke Ingles concept.

Work has in fact begun on the worlds first waste-incinerating power plant made ski resort in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The project was initially proposed by the native Danish architecture firm “Bjarke Ingels Group” (BIG), who won the Danish Crown contest for their stunning  $644 million redesign of the original power plant in January of 2011.   Nevertheless, by the end of that year, many critics were convinced that the project had gone cold and was dead in the water.  The extravagant proposal recently resurfaced, however, and was given a green light — breaking ground on March, 4th 2013.

Ski slope rendering.
Ski slope rendering.

Europe has a growing waste problem and not enough landfills to deal with it.  The Denmark power plant will incinerate trash while using the energy produced to power the city.  In addition to this it will serve as a recreational destination, being the largest, tallest building in Denmark; housing a man-made ski resort on it’s roof.

Trail Map
Trail Map.

In the Winter, Copenhagen is a frigid, snowy flatland missing only one vital component of alpine skiing: a slope.  The roof of the energy plant is Denmark’s missing component.  In Winter, natural weather cycles govern conditions, but an even more intriguing aspect is it’s use as a normal ski resort in the Summer! It is covered with a recycled synthetic carpet material which allows for the collection of rainwater.  This rainwater can then be blown out from humidifiers onto the material resulting in a coefficient of kinetic friction low enough to resemble snow and allow for use of normal ski equipment on warm sunny days!

Summer shreddin' in Denmark.  Who'da thought?
Bikini shreddin’ in Denmark. Who’da thought?

View an additional article on this building project here: Waste-to-Energy Ski Slope Project

A trash-burning, energy-producing, man-made ski resort might not sound so appealing or remotely sustainable even in comparison to a low-tech, diesel powered resort, however, Bjarke Ingles is notoriously famous for his innovative, largely sustainable projects.

Power plant-ski resort in the Summer.
Power plant-ski resort in the Summer.

“The new waste incineration 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 in fact 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,” states Ingles.

Interior rendering.
Interior rendering.

In the video, Ingles claims that “This will be the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world,” yet how can a waste-incinerating, man-made ski resort be sustainable when burning trash produces tons of carbon dioxide?  For now, the technical systems within the power plant responsible for this cleaner and greener, non-toxic output are left unsaid, however, Ingles has a reputation for pulling this kind of stuff off.

In an article from, the author, Suzanne Labarre admits, “…the writeup is short on specifics that support the idea of the plant as a model of hedonistic sustainability, though if Ingels says it’ll be green, we’re inclined to believe him. The guy’s awfully good at getting his way.”

Winter night rendering.
Winter night rendering.

BIG admits, that even with the cleaner systems, there is still an unwanted output of C02 from the plant’s smokestack (though considerably less than the original plant).  As acknowledgement of this, the top of the smoke stack was designed to fill up with gas and unleash 10 puffs of C02 smoke rings for every metric ton produced.  This provides a continual visual and quantifiable reminder of the impact of consumption to the city of Copenhagen.

Ten smoke rings are emitted from the smoke stack for every metric ton of C02 unleashed.

The expected date of completion is sometime in 2016.

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