View showing smoke ring effect
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR View showing smoke ring effect

BIG won the competition for the 1.02 million-square-foot Amager Resource Center with this widely touted scheme, which promises to turn a waste-to-energy plant into a popular attraction. By integrating a ski slope into the roof and a rock-climbing wall up one face, the architects build upon the project’s location: a part of Copenhagen on the island of Amager that has become a destination for extreme sports enthusiasts, thanks to its parks, beaches, dunes, and a lagoon for kayaking and windsurfing. At 100 meters tall, the center will be one of the city’s tallest landmarks when completed—and a striking example of building-as-landscape. Indeed, the client has taken to calling it the Amager Bakke, or Amager Hill.

View from the harbor
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR View from the harbor

The processing portions of the building are constructed of cast-in-place concrete with administrative offices framed in steel. The exterior is composed of a checkerboard grid of stacked planters with glazing between, creating a sort of supersized green masonry wall of great porosity that will provide the interiors with substantial natural light and give the elevations a patterned appearance. The switchback of the rooftop ski slope will be a highly visible fifth façade that most fully expresses the architects’ desire to create a building that is economically, environmentally, and socially profitable.

Aerial view
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR Aerial view

The plant will turn roughly six pounds of kitchen garbage into five hours of heating and four hours of electricity. (It’s designed to process 435,000 tons of waste per year, and serve about 140,000 local households.) Its chimney marks each ton of carbon dioxide exhausted by venting a steam “smoke ring,” giving Copenhagen’s population a clear—and playful—indication of the plant’s productivity.

View of rooftop ski slope and trail
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR View of rooftop ski slope and trail
Climbing wall
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR Climbing wall
Interior View of waste-to-energy machinery
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR Interior View of waste-to-energy machinery
Interior view
BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group / MIR Interior view
Section diagram
Courtesy BIG Section diagram
Sustainability diagram
Courtesy BIG Sustainability diagram
Roof plan
Courtesy BIG Roof plan

Project Credits Project: Amager Resource Center, Copenhagen
Client: Amager Resource Center
Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), New York and Copenhagen . Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle (partners-in-charge); Claus Hermansen, Nanna Gyldholm Møller (project designers/architects); Alberto Cumerlato, Aleksander Wadas, Alexander Ejsing, Alina Tamosiunaite, Alexandra Gustafsson, Anders Hjortnæs, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Annette Jensen, Ariel Wallner, Armor Gutierrez, Ask Andersen, Balaj IIulian, Blake Smith, Brian Yang, Brygida Zawadzka, Buster Christensen, Chris Falla, Chris Yuan, Daniel Selensky, Dennis Rasmussen, Espen Vik, Finn Nørkjær, Franck Fdida, George Abraham, Gonzalo Castro, Gül Ertekin, Helen Chen, Henrick Poulsen, Henrik Kania, Horia Spirescu, Jakob Lange, Jakob Laursen, Jalena Vucic, Jeppe Ecklon, Jesper Andersen, Ji-Young Yoon, Joanna Jakubowska, Johanna Nenander, Kamilla Heskje, Katarzyna Siedlecka, Krzysztof Marciszewski, Laura Wätte, Liang Wang, Lise Jessen, Long Zuo, Maciej Zawadzki, Mads Stidsen, Marcelina Kolasinska, Marcos Garcia Bano, Maren Allen, Mathias Stigsen, Matti Nørgaard, Michael Andersen, Narisara Schröder, Niklas Rausch, Oanh Nguyen, Øssur Nolsø, Pero Vukovic, Richard Howis, Ryohei Koike, Se Hyeon Kim, Simon Masson, Sunming Lee, Toni Mateu, Xing Xiong, Zoltan Kalaszi (project team)
Size: 1.02 million square feet (building); 344,000 square feet (roof/ski slope)
Cost: Withheld

You'll find all of the other winners of this year's Progressive Architecture Awards here.