Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG


Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group have won a competition to design a power plant for Copenhagen with their design that will blow smoke rings and double up as a ski slope. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

The Waste-to-Energy Plant will replace the neighbouring Amagerforbraending plant and will function as a treatment facility that transforms waste into energy.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

The roof of the building will be  a ski slope, accessed via an elevator running along a smokestack and providing views to the inside of the plant.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

The smokestack will expel rings of smoke 30cm in diameter whenever a ton of fossil Co2 is released, acting as a signal to raise awareness of ecological issues and energy consumption amongst the inhabitants of Copenhagen.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

The smoke rings will be illuminated at night by lasers that will be directed towards them.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

Construction is due for completion in 2016.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

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Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

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Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

Here's some more information about the project:


BIG + realities:united + AKT + Topotek 1 & Man Made Land is selected to design the new Waste-to-Energy Plant that doubles as a ski slope for Copenhagen’s citizens and its many visitors by 2016.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

Located in an industrial area near the city center the new Waste-to-Energy plant will be an exemplary model in the field of waste management and energy production, as well as an architectural landmark in the cityscape of Copenhagen. The project is the single largest environmental initiative in Denmark with a budget of 3,5 Billion DKK, and replaces the adjacent 40 year old Amagerforbraending plant, integrating the latest technologies in waste treatment and environmental performance.

The shortlisted offices included Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Dominique Perrault Architecture, 3xN, Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects & Gottlieb Paludan Architects who were selected to compete out of 36 international proposals in Fall 2010. The winning team is announced by an unanimous judge panel.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

”BIG’s proposal contributes to the city with something useful and beautiful. We see this creating a lot of opportunities and with this unique building, we can brand the Danish knowledge and technology to show the world our abilities within environmental and energy issues”, Ulla Röttger, Director of Amagerforbraending.

Instead of considering the new Amagerforbraending as an isolated architectural object, the building is conceived as a destination in itself, reflecting the progressive vision of a new type of waste treatment facility. The roof of the new Amagerforbraending is turned into a 31.000 m2 ski slope of varying skill levels for the citizens of Copenhagen, its neighboring municipalities and visitors, mobilizing the architecture and redefining the relationship between the waste plant and the city by expanding the existing recreational activities in the surrounding area into a new breed of waste-to-energy plant.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

“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 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”, Bjarke Ingels Founder and Partner, BIG.

The slope is ecological using a recycled synthetic granular, upending the convention of the energy intensive indoor ski resort. Access to the slopes is via an elevator along the plant’s smokestack providing views into the plant, giving glimpses of its internal workings finally reaching an observation platform 100m above giving sightseers an unobstructed view from one of the tallest structures in Copenhagen.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

Click for larger image

All of this while the smokestack is modified to puff smoke rings of 30m in diameter whenever 1 ton of fossil CO2 is released. These smoke rings which are the brainchild of Germany-based art studio realities:united will form due to the condensation of water in the flue gases as they as they slowly rise and cool, serving as a gentle reminder of the impact of consumption and a measuring stick that will allow the common Copenhagener to grasp the CO2 emission in a straightforward way - turning the smokestack traditionally the symbol of the industrial era into a symbol for the future. At night, heat tracking lights are used to position lasers on the smoke rings into glowing artworks.

Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG

“Designing a façade for a building is like wrapping a gift without having to consider its content. Instead of concentrating on the wrapping paper we have instead invested our energy on creating a gift for the citizens of Copenhagen & its visitors no matter if they are adults or children, professionals or beginners. I can’t wait to ski on a base of clean and green energy with a view over the city in 2016”, David Zahle, Partner & Project Leader, BIG.

From a distance, the entire building is wrapped in a vertical green façade formed by planter modules stacked like bricks turning it into a mountain from afar. The surrounding topography is sculpted by Topotek 1 & Man Made Land to form a park which offers informal sport activities in summer and winter. Along its western border a field of hills will mimic a mogul piste. A path system throughout the park interconnects the whole site and creates good connections to the neighboring residential area.


Project: Waste-to-Energy Plant
Client: Amagerforbraending
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Budget: 3,5 BL DKK; 650 MIO USD, 460 MIO EUR
Status: 1. Prize
Architect: BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Collaborators: Realities:United (Smoke Ring Generator), AKT (Façade & Structural Consulting), Topotek 1/Man Made Land (Landscape)

Building: 95,000 m2
Landscape: 90,000 m2
Roof + ski slope: 32,000 m2
Façade area: 74,000 m2
Administrative + Visitor center floor area: 6,500 m2

Partner-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle
Project Leader: Brian Yang
Team: Jelena Vucic, Alina Tamosiunaite, Armor Gutierrez, Maciej Zawadzki, Jakob Lange, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Daniel Selensky, Gül
Ertekin, Xing Xiong, Sunming Lee, Long Zuo

See also:


Hafjell Mountain Hotel by
8 House by
Holmenkollen ski jump by
JDS Architects

Dezeen Book of Ideas out now!

BIG is included in our book, Dezeen Book of Ideas. Buy it now for just £12.

Posted on Thursday January 27th 2011 at 2:27 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Johnston

    this is really beautiful.

  • Marcello

    the result of being inspired by a good cigar!

  • That is all kinds of awesome.

  • boo

    What a wonderful combination of concepts!

  • AC_

    Another ridiculous design from BIG hidden behind silly concept-combo's.
    Come on. Smoke rings?! Seriously?

  • thomas

    Comment Diagram:





    The project is nice, but the smokerings are silly – celebrating the burning of garbage is kind of weird!

    • Mads Krogh

      Is it only me who appears to grasp the concept of reminding the citizens of nearby capital and metropol Copenhagen, that the mega smoke rings are a result of their waste production?

      Instead of seeing it as a celebration, try to see it as a reminder, and thus an encouragement to limiting garbage production…

  • I really like the facade planters turning the power plant into a planted vertical garden. Nice touch.

  • JohnJ

    I'm kind of with AC_ on this. Its essentially a typical BIG project with additional farcical ideas. Smoke rings? Okay. But laser light show on top of them? Haha, dumb.

  • Simon

    I think everyone is assuming it won't happen because it looks like a student project. But how exciting it will be if it does.

    Certainly will be unique and it's very ambitious for a government to commission such a building.

    • Bo Laugesen

      All BIG projects look a bit like student projects, which can be quite inspiring at times. At other times it looks more like an excise in awesomeness than architecture.

      This one is not my favourite. Their usual aesthetics aren’t as present and it is somehow more dull. However, it does what Bjarke loves: making things serve multiple purposes that are not necessarily related.

      But praise to them for actually getting some of these things built. I think that’s the most impressive thing about BIG and the old PLOT.

  • zecks

    bonkers as usual, but maybe we are just jealous that BIG gets its ideas build and we don't

  • Bjarke Ingels: an architect with sense of humour! shock-horror!

  • Carsten

    Everyone in Copenhagen will try to produce as much CO² as possible, just to see more smoke rings going up – not sure if that's a good thing…

  • Erik

    GREAT WORK! Just hope the architecture and quality will stick for the first time with a big project.

  • Now this its just wonderful!

    My city has a 80's incinerator… its great they have put lights in the glazed stairwell.

  • James

    This would be quite low on the list of things I'd want to see my tax money spent on.

  • the first picture is like an ufo

  • andy

    what about the 30 CM diameter? i wouldnt see that even with a laserpointer on it.
    anyway, i get the renderings…

    • Mads Krogh

      Yeah it's probably a misspelling – 30m diameter appears more likely when compared to the graphics in the presentation…

  • Fizz

    Holy smoke rings Robin! (think about it…)

  • alechs

    I think only citizens of Copenhagen should care about this being built.

  • Stephan

    BIG B!!!
    I can't wait to be on top of the slope, wearing my ski and breathing cancerous micro-particles.
    Any modern power-plant that uses waste by burning it, it produces micro-particles that can enter our organism until getting into the blood. Anybody is aware of this?

  • Paul Rodgers

    Another childish idea from the master of undergraduate gimmicks: mr. Bjarke Ingels. I’m glad to see that this building like most of his projects, will not be built. Even the danish press is now reporting that he is repeatedly copying himself. I’m sad that the architecture community is content with choosing gimmeckery over quality, take a look at the other competition entries, a lot of great ideas there!