Amager Bakke Incineration Plant

“There’s no longer the enormous pressure to push these facilities out of the city. Instead there’s excitement about maintaining diversity and keeping those [industrial] sites, and their legacy with it.” – Philipp Rode, executive director of London School of Economics city programme

What + Why // Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, is known for his “big-think” approach, in which design is informed by a hands-on, ground-up understanding for the needs of a building and its surroundings.  And with the Amager Bakke Incineration Plant, he’s done just that, with a playful twist. Instead of designing  a waste plant pushed to the margins of the city, Ingels invites the community to interact with the efficient, waste-to-energy plant by making it double as a ski slope. The clean energy plant is  part of Copenhagen’s ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by 2025 and, in Ingels’ mind, deserves to be embraced as a centerpiece rather than ignored as a blemish on urban landscape.

Model // The Amager Bakke Plant follows a model of hedonistic sustainability, in which the notion of sustainable design takes on a youthful, playful form that promotes happiness. In this case, the sustainable design comes in the form of the 140,000 homes that will be powered by clean energy through the waste-to-energy plant, and the hedonism comes in the form of bikini-clad skiers hitting the slopes with neon rings of CO2 lighting up the night sky. Egregious, perhaps, but undeniably bringing a new realm of engagement to waste, energy, and sustainability.

Tension // Skiing is certainly a symbol of privilege and luxury for many, rather than a symbol of inclusivity – particularly when advertised with beautiful women on skis while wearing scant bikinis. Some might see it as a paradox of excessiveness among a statue of conservation and sustainability.

What Sets This Apart//

  • Hedonistic sustainability – overtly joyful
  • Play as an engagement tool
  • Aesthetically and visually bold (neon smoke rings??)
  • Bringing the marginalized to the forefront
  • Making the forbidden engaging



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