The coolest incinerator on the planet
It's sexy, and it has a ski slope. Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled an award-winning design for a waste-to-energy plant which, when built, will replace a 40-year old tired-looking incinerator in Copenhagen.
The building, called Amagerforbraending, is a class act. It features an artificial ski slope on its roof that will play host to 1,500 metres of green, blue and black-diamond ski runs. Think I'm taking the piste? I can assure you I'm not.
The centre of the building will house a massive smokestack with lifts running alongside it to ferry skiers up to the top, enabling them to see inside the plant as they ascend. And that's not all. The smokestack will belch giant smoke rings into the sky every time a tonne of CO2 is released, gently reminding locals of their carbon impacts.
As night descends, the smoke rings will be illuminated by heat-tracking lasers, which will project a pie-chart onto the smoke that displays a quota of fossil fuel CO2. Build work on the plant is due to be completed by 2016 and as skiers glide down the slope they may well pause to reflect upon the rubbish burning beneath them.
I've seen some pretty neat-looking modern incinerators in my time, but this one blows them out the water. Such creativity has left me seduced - and angling for a press trip (with ski pass included). But others are not so convinced.
For instance, Friends of the Earth (FoE) is labelling it "the most spectacular example of greenwash ever seen". The campaign group may have a point in that it believes waste companies have cottoned onto the fact that if you can dress up an incinerator to look like something else, something beautiful and iconic, people will be fine with it. But lets be honest - incinerators are not really FoE's cup of tea.
Morgan Sindall Professional Services' waste & energy sector leader Andy King takes a more pragmatic view, believing that designs like Amagerforbraending can provoke in a positive way, making people think about the waste they create, connect with it even. "Thoughtful, exceptional design can help give the industry the product it needs to win over a sceptical public," he says.
It stands to reason that if you are attracted to something, you'll want to engage with it. If a waste plant can double up as a ski slope or resemble a Viking ship such as SITA's plant on the Isle of Man, it will arouse curiosity and interest. That then can pave the way for education and greater understanding of the issues our society faces when it comes to resource management. And that can only be a good thing.maxine perella