Clean and green gets the honour

Copenhill/Amager Bakke in Copenhagen, Denmark has been announced as the World Building of the Year 2021. The scheme is designed by B.I.G Architects and was selected from the ‘Production, Energy & Recycling’ category.

Paul Finch programme director praised the way the building “addresses the role of architecture in the new world of recycling and zero carbon. It treats infrastructure projects in a way which makes people say ‘Yes in my backyard’ rather than ‘no’. It encourages designers to think beyond the brief, to argue for ideas, and to ride the tides of politics and economics in the pursuit of the socially beneficial. And it reminds us that buildings can be fun.”

CopenHill, also known as Amager Bakke, is a new breed of waste-to-energy plant, topped with a ski slope, hiking trail and climbing wall. Formerly a piece of infrastructure in an industrial zone, CopenHill has become a new destination combining community and leisure with sustainable ambitions, aligning with Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025.

The 41,000m2 waste-to-energy plant also includes an urban recreation centre and environmental education hub, turning social infrastructure into an architectural landmark. Skiers ascending the park are able to glimpse inside the 24-hour operations of a waste incinerator. The mixed-use building also includes a rooftop bar, cross-fit area, climbing wall and viewing plateau in the city before descending the 490m tree-lined hiking and running trail within a lush, mountainous terrain designed by Danish landscape architects SLA.

The internal volumes of the power plant have been determined by the precise positioning and organisation of its machinery in height order, creating an efficient, sloping rooftop fit for a 9,000m2 ski terrain. On the longest vertical facade, an 85 metre climbing wall is installed, making it the tallest artificial climbing wall in the world. Inside, the new waste incinerating facilities integrate the latest technologies in waste treatment and energy production.

Meanwhile, the 10,000m2 green roof addresses the challenging micro-climate of an 85m high park, rewilding a biodiverse landscape while absorbing heat, removing air particulates and minimising stormwater runoff. Beneath the slopes, whirring furnaces, steam, and turbines convert 440,000 tonnes of waste annually into enough clean energy to deliver electricity and district heating for 150,000 homes.