Copenhill, BIG’s skiable waste-to-energy power plant, gets sweeping new photos from Hufton + Crow

High and Dry

Copenhill, BIG’s skiable waste-to-energy power plant, gets sweeping new photos from Hufton + Crow

British architectural photography studio Hufton + Crow has released new images of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)-designed Amager Bakke, a combined heat-and-power waste-to-energy power plant on the industrial outskirts of Copenhagen that famously doubles as a vertiginous outdoor urban recreational hub—a hub that’s no doubt getting plenty of good use lately as life shifts outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Assisted by drones, Hufton + Crow has captured the singular waste management hub—also known as Copenhill—in its full (and rather improbable) multifaceted glory, from the mist-shrouded, steam-puffing chimney at its summit, to the dry ski run on its sloping roof, to its crowd-drawing climbable facade. Also included is photography of the Amager Resource Centre (ARC), the clean energy-producing heart of the over 4.4-million-square-foot facility. When running at full capacity, the ARC can burn and convert 440,000 tons of municipal solid waste into clean energy annually, enough to provide over 30,000 homes with electricity and 72,000 homes with heating in an area spread across five municipalities including Copenhagen.

people using a grassy artificial ski slope with a harbor in the background
A ski run with a view like no other. The Middelgrunden wind farm can be seen in the distance. (© Hufton + Crow)
top of an artificial ski run at copenhill
A platform lift ferries skiers and snowboards to the top of Copenhill. (© Hufton + Crow)

Describing itself as the “cleanest and most energy-efficient waste-to-energy plant in the entire world,” the ARC features an advanced catalytic filtration system that scrubs harmful pollutants from the incineration exhaust billowing from its monumental chimney. The power station officially went online in March 2017.

In October 2019, two years after the ARC commenced operations, the recreational elements at Amager Bakke, including an all-seasons rooftop ski run and hiking trail-laced green space spread across over 170,000 square feet, opened to the public. The rooftop park and recreational activities at the power plant are a project of the Amager Bakke Foundation and operated by an independent company, Copenhill A/S. The ski facilities are operated in partnership with Snowminds Ski School.

inside a waste to energy power plant below copenhill
The ARC is equipped with a 22 metric ton-capacity solid waste pit. (© Hufton + Crow)

Providing sweeping views of Copenhagen’s harbor, the calve-strengthening aslant parkland that crowns Copenhill, a self-described “epicenter for urban mountain sport” that brings dizzying thrills to a European nation with notably flat terrain, was also designed by BIG alongside Copenhagen-based landscape architecture firm SLA.

In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, other activities and amenities at Copenhill include a sledding hill located at the foot of the main slopes, a 279-foot-tall climbing wall up the side of the building that opened this summer and is the tallest of its kind in the world, a tree-lined running track, scenic walking trails, rooftop cafe, après ski bar, glass elevator that provides views inside the power plant, and an archery tag course located directly next to the building. While activities like skiing are fee-based and require advance booking, the rooftop park at Copenhill is publicly accessible and free-of-charge during operating hours.

people using a grassy artificial ski slope and a climbing wall along copenhill
Hitting the socially-distant slopes at Copenhill. (© Hufton + Crow)

While the coronavirus crisis has no doubt impacted foreign tourism at Copenhill, the facility—as was largely intended when built—has continued to cater to local Copenhagers seeking a scenic and active outdoor diversion located conveniently within city limits. All things considered, it truly opened just in the nick of time. “Copenhill is open, has lots and lots of space, and we are outdoors,” the website advertises, noting that “there are plenty of options for a corona-friendly excursion.” A slew of public events are also listed on the Copenhill calendar including an open-mic comedy night, a gin-tasting event, a freestyle ski competition, and planned J-Day festivities. (Bolstered by a strong and free healthcare system and guided by samfundssindDenmark has fared comparatively well during the pandemic although reported infections are on the upswing.)

inside of a waste-to-energy power plant
Inside the garbage-burning Amager Resource Center. (© Hufton + Crow)

“At Amager Bakke, guests can actually avoid being in contact with other people during the activities,” the facility goes on to promote. “The risk of becoming infected on Amager Bakke is therefore considered very low.”

For those whose pandemic-curbed travels might have potentially entailed a visit to a clean-burning Danish waste incinerator topped by an undulating park and urban ski resort, Hufton + Crow’s newly released photos do make for a nice bit of armchair tourism in the meantime.