BIG launches Kickstarter for smoke-ring-blowing power plant chimney

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BIG launches Kickstarter campaign for smoke-ring-blowing chimney at Copenhagen power plant

Bjarke Ingels has become the latest architect to use crowdfunding to finance a project, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for development of a power plant chimney that will blow smoke rings (+ movie)

BIG founder Ingels has launched a Kickstarter page with practice partner Jakob Lange that invites the public to "make history by financing the latest prototype to create the first ever steam ring generator."

Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG
Rendering of the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant by BIG in Copenhagen

The steam rings will be blown out of a chimney on top of the BIG-designed Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen, which will also feature a ski slope on its roof.

Designed to replace the 40-year-old Amagerforbraending facility, the power plant will generate power by incinerating waste, with the rings emitted from a 124-metre high chimney at the peak of the sloping roof.

BIG Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant
Rendering of BIG's Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant

"By 2017 the citizens of Copenhagen will not only be able to ski down the cleanest power plant in the world – their perceptions of what a power plant can be will be challenged by an art piece that raises awareness of our carbon emissions," said Ingels and Lange on their Kickstarter page.

"The world's first steam-ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant. Help us turn fiction into fact!"

A movie of an early trial of the chimney design with a scaled-down prototype was released earlier this year.

Movie showing test of smoke-ring-blowing chimney prototype


The duo are now raising the $15,000 required to create a final prototype, before applying for the final permissions to build the full-size version on site.

The smokestack – based on a proposal by Berlin-based artists realities:united – will use an elastic mechanism to release steam rings that measure 25 metres in diameter and three metres in height.

BIG's research group, BIG Ideas, is working with Peter Madsen's Space Lab and the Danish Technical University on the project.

Backers of the project are able to contribute between $5 and $10,000 with rewards ranging from a T-shirt designed by Ingels, signed copies of his firm's latest book, and having a name engraved onto the prototype chimney, to joining the architects for the next prototype test or attending the opening of finished building.

BIG Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant
Rendering of ski-slope roof on the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant, with the chimney in the background

At time of writing, the campaign had raised $2,500 with 27 days remaining.

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have been used by designers to fund pet projects and launch their businesses for a while, but the scale of the projects has been growing.

Large public-realm projects that have sought total or partial funding through Kickstarter and similar platforms include the +Pool swimming pool and the Lowline underground park, both in New York, and the Thames Baths natural pool proposal for London.

Last month Rotterdam studio ZUS completed what they describe as the "world’s first crowdfunded public infrastructure project" – the 400-metre-long Luchstingel pedestrian bridge.

Earlier this year Ingels revealed plans to turn the chimneys at London's Battersea Power Station into giant sparking Tesla coils, powered by pedestrians passing through a public square beside the historic building.