Turning waste management into skiing opportunities

Denmark is leading the way in “green” thinking for skiers and snowboarders with its new announcement for a waste management plant that doubles as a ski hill.

The massive project, costing DKK 3.5 billion or over CAD $637 million, is due for completion in 2016, and consists of a futuristic waste management facility that acts as both a reminder to Copenhagen citizens of the amount of waste they’re generating, and as the underlay for a ski slope with 1,900 metres of pistes.

The building will be replacing Copenhagen’s current 40-year-old Amagerforbrænding, and will feature facilities for rainwater harvesting, waste treatment, and even green landscaping. The ski slope, dubbed Amager Bakke, will be accessed by elevator and will be the city’s only ski area complete with a terrain park.

The project was awarded by a panel of judges to Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), an architectural firm from Copenhagen. A keen eye for detail has gone into every nook and cranny in the building, which will be a landmark for sustainable businesses.

Founder and Partner of BIG, Bjarke Ingels, explained the goal of the design in a press release from Jan. 26, 2010:

“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,” he says. “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.”

Other firms involved in the design include Realities:United, AKT, and Topotek 1/Man Made Land. Together they have created a design that will involve the public in learning more about managing their waste, as well as a ski slope that promotes exercise and physical well-being.

One interesting design feature the building will include is a smoke stack marker. Every time the plant releases a tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2), visible smoke rings will rise into the sky, a reminder to citizens of their impact on the environment.

Copenhagen is one of the greenest cities in the world. Historically, the city has burned 54 per cent of its waste for energy and recycled 42 per cent, meaning that only four per cent of its garbage ends up in landfills. Amager Bakke will be a waste burning plant, powering itself and parts of the city.
The outer walls of the building feature another green idea: natural light. The façade consists of slatted windows, like stacked bricks, promoting natural light throughout the whole building. The window ledges will also house garden boxes where locally familiar flora will be planted.

The building’s ski hill will be built on top of a raised roof on the building, featuring an easy run, an intermediate run and an advanced run, as well as a terrain park. Skiers and snowboarders will be turning on a white padded astro turf, used throughout man made ski resorts in Europe. While there’ll be no powder days like the ones you enjoy here, it will offer ski clubs and recreational riders a much needed space to satisfy the desire for skiing and snowboarding.

The whole idea is quite extravagant but will become a destination landmark for environmentalists and ski sports enthusiasts alike. It’s truly one of a kind, and is a huge step forward in environmental design.

For more information, visit www.big.dk.

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