It should have started with a joke. In fact, the idea of skiing on a waste incinerator seems pretty crazy, rather absurd than thoughtful plans. And then, in view of all the sites that Copenhagen has to offer.
October 4 was inaugurated. Who stands on the roof of the industrial plant of 41,000 square meters, the Copenhagen skyline on one side, the Øresund on the other, can only say: yes, it's crazy. But that's how it might look, our future. With houses that have a lot and especially different functions. They can burn waste, generate electricity and heat 150,000 households, but they can also be fun. You can go skiing and snowboarding on 450 meters of green plastic carpets on the roof, walk on the sides between trees and shrubs and climb on 85 meters of frontage. Where students learn what happens to their garbage. And where the architecture does not signal: "Please keep your distance!", But is tantamount to an invitation to stay here. The facade next to the climbing wall features an ornament of aluminum panels that looks like someone who has stretched a net of giant silvery and shiny briquettes. Inside, the glass elevator reveals a fascinating construction of huge tubes, boilers and pontoons, essential to the proper operation of a waste incineration plant.
Copenhill, as the artificial mountain has been baptized, therefore provides the solution with a problem that is currently under research. Because the project shows how cities can not only become denser but also more livable. After all, this waste incineration plant has nothing shamelessly hidden in the outskirts of the city, on a recently designated industrial site, which continues to push even more surface pollution. Amager Bakke, also called complex, is rather a building that has already been proudly integrated into the urban landscape. This may seem silly, but what Copenhagen is its Elbphilharmonie Copenhagen could soon be its waste incineration plant.
"Copenhill is the architectural expression of something that would otherwise have remained invisible," says Bjarke Ingels. He is the founder of the Danish architecture office BIG, who designed this project. The power plant was so clean that the building could be turned into a "foundation of social life". For Ingels, "a clear example of hedonistic sustainability: a sustainable city is not only better for the environment, but also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens".
This makes the project exemplary for the 45-year-old architect and his global office. Pessimism, not to mention the setting up of scenarios in times of climate change, Ingels holds as little as understated. BIG actually means Bjarke Ingels Group, but thinking in capital letters seems to be mandatory here. The Dane founded the office in 2005, which today counts hundreds of architects working in Copenhagen, New York, London and Barcelona. The average age is 35 years old. And productivity is huge. There is hardly a month without a new project being launched. Sometimes it's a Lego house in Denmark, which looks like giants who have stacked colorful monster stones here. Then a new art museum in Norway that swings like a bridge over a river. Add to that futuristic visions like the science city of Mars that BIG has developed for Dubai. Under the construction of a huge glass dome in the Dubai desert for research purposes, conditions must be generated here as on Mars. For UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Program, this spring came the idea of a floating city for 10,000 people.
Not all projects are as exceptional as Copenhill. To maintain a giant office like BIG, compromises are needed. And the creative idea does not always stand up to reality. Even BIG's "8 House" project, a huge eight-block residential building on the outskirts of Copenhagen, which suddenly made the architect known about ten years ago, does not get old. very good. What should mainly reside in the concept of half-baked use: condominium owners have rather little sense for open common spaces; they are neglected there, the private terrace is rather protected. And that puts the dynamic energy of the design almost totally.
Bjarke Ingels became a kind of builder of the nation
Bjarke Ingels is a bit irritated by the critics. Big is also his personal motto. At a time when the end of star architects had already been proclaimed, the Dane again began to define this genre with a constant smile. An integral part of this: his gaming instinct. On the one hand, this characterizes the appearance of Ingel. He had his career honored in the comics book "Yes is More" and at the Venice Architecture Biennial, where celebrities like cocktails in noble hotels, ask Ingels on the sailboat, where he serves as cutie pizza slices and deafening DJs playing Elektropop leaves.
On the other hand, it is also Ingels' gaming instinct in his designs that made a project like Copenhill also visionary. This is best seen in Copenhagen, the city that has made the architect famous and currently celebrates it in a single show at the Danish Architecture Center. Ingels has become a kind of mastermind of the nation. He has designed a new home for Noma, one of the best restaurants in the world. For the Danish pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, he brought to China the little historic mermaid of the Copenhagen waterfront. And now, the Copenhill Massif is visible almost from any point of the city.
Above all, it is the first Ingels projects, rather small, that make its approach clearer. For example, there is the sailing school, which is also a youth center. To connect the two uses, Ingels designed in 2004 a wooden bridge with multiple waves resembling a landscape of dunes offering space for boats under its hills. The one that connects the different functions – the wooden roof – comes alive at the same time to have fun. In the same way, the bath in Ingels single port works. The dive tower is like a boat bow in one of the three pools. Finally, in the Superkilen project, the design of a large urban area in a high-migration area, BIG, in collaboration with the artistic group Superflex and the German landscape architect Topotek 1, has made the region a colorful playground. outside.
It is no coincidence that these three examples are public sector projects. Like no other city in the last 20 years, Copenhagen has always worked for its own transformation into a viable and sustainable metropolis. Copenhill is also part of the strategy to become CO₂ neutral by 2025. The design of the public space plays a decisive role. And that's exactly why the BIG projects in Copenhagen are so nice: because their call to enjoy life in the city is here for everyone.