“Very soon it’s going to be a fact that in Copenhagen we ski on the roofs of our power plants,” Bjarke Ingels, founder of the Danish architecture practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), stated a couple of months prior to the completion of his firm’s Copenhill. Now, Copenhill, a new waste-to-energy power plant, has officially opened its doors after eight years (delays were primarily caused by safety approvals to occupy the roof). Beyond its hyped rooftop ski slope, the building also houses ski lifts, a ski rental shop, hiking trails, a cafe, and the tallest artificial climbing wall in the world. Copenhill, or Amager Bakke in Danish, ironically refers to the lack of hills in the southeastern Amager area of Copenhagen, a flatness that becomes apparent when one stands on the top of the 90-foot-tall “mega-brick” metal-clad building. “We do not have mountains, but we do have mountains of trash,” Ingels said. Turning away from the panoramic city views, one sees the 1,300-foot-long artificial ski slope designed in collaboration with Colorado’s International Alpine Design, the creators of many larger ski resorts around the world. The five shades of green of the ski slope surface membrane peek out from clean steam released from the nearby smaller chimneys. The gradient of green colors has been chosen to emphasize the sustainable agenda. The slope mimics—in a cartoon-like manner—a naturalistic terrain. However, the professional skiers testing it disappear within seconds, which makes the excitement of watching the skiers fade quickly. A park, designed in collaboration with the Danish landscape practice SLA, runs along both sides of the ski track. The park was planned as a manicured Nordic wilderness with the ambition of attracting natural wildlife to the building. The metal facade, which will feature crawling plants, has setbacks for birds and other animals to inhabit. While the sustainable agenda informed details like the choice of plants, it can be questioned why the same consideration has not been given to the actual building materials. The choice of nonsustainable materials such as concrete, glass, steel, and aluminum is in many ways contradictory to the ideology of the building itself. On the underside of Copenhill is Amager Resource Centre (ARC), billed as the world’s cleanest power plant. It provides 30,000 homes with electricity and 72,000 homes with heating across five municipalities, including Copenhagen. The heaviness of the technology that goes into a building like a power plant becomes very apparent when the glass elevator takes you from the ground floor up to the ski slope. An impressive interior landscape of monochrome silver-painted machines extends as far as the eye can see, and as Ingels explained, “the only design decision BIG was able to make on the inside of the power plant was to decide the color of the machinery—if it was of no extra cost.” The building in its entirety has so far cost 4 billion Danish kroner ($670 million USD) and is one of the most expensive construction projects in the recent history of Copenhagen. It is a high cost for a building that is supposed to be obsolete in the near future—plans are being drawn for a recycling system to take over all waste management. The building—with the merging of interior industry and exterior recreative space—is what Ingels describes as hedonistic architecture. Copenhill should, in his eyes, be viewed as a landmark of an ambition to use clean tech to create a better environment, quality of life, and awareness of habits of consumption. The initial ambition was to have the 410-foot chimney discharge a smoke ring made from water vapor every time one ton of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere. There are no rings, but at least the exhaust is cleaned as much as possible before being unleashed above the city. As a contradictory landmark—the overall agenda is to have fun while increasing awareness of consumption—the building is officially part of the ambitious goal of making Copenhagen the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Christine Bjerke is a Copenhagen-based architect and writer and teaches at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.
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Brought to you with support fromSolar panels are increasingly ubiquitous across a broad range of recent and ongoing projects. For the most part, this technology is applied along rooflines or as standalone installations supplying the energy demands of an adjacent complex. Completed in 2017, C.F. Møller’s Copenhagen International School bucks this trend with a facade composed of thousands of solar panels. The Copenhagen International School is located in the city’s fast-growing Nordhavn district, a significant harbor area undergoing a range of mixed-use development. The school, surrounded by looming cranes and shipping containers, is not out of place with its box-like massing.
photovoltaic panels produced by Danish manufacturer SolarLab. The panels, which additionally function as a rain screen cladding, are all colored the same shade of blue-green. Each panel is slightly angled and treated with a nanogel to add a layer of dynamism to what would otherwise be a static facade format, which gives the effect of different colors and shading due to shifting environmental conditions. Each panel is approximately 2.5 square feet in area, and are mechanically held in place by a system of glass rails and aluminum cassettes, pitching each panel at an angle of 4° in relation to the facade. In total, the panels have a surface area of just over 65,000 square feet. For the most part, the panels are formed of 16 solar cells linked by tinned copper threads. The facade is split into eight-panel modules, each connected to independent inverters suspended under the ceiling throughout the building, converting the solar energy into an alternating current of 230 Volts. In total, the panels are estimated to produce 300 MWh per year, fulfilling 50% of the school's energy requirements. In 2017, the project was awarded Germany's Iconic Award, noting the school's innovative facade cladding, and C. F. Møller is currently designing a trio of floating classrooms adjacent to the Copenhagen International School.According to the architects, the overall focus of the new masterplan for the district emphasized the use of sustainable energy embedded in a newly built network of roads, commuter stations, bike paths, and pedestrian paths. After testing the practicality of water and wind energy, solar energy was chosen as the most suitable for the school's needs. Rising from a ground flour base, the school building is divided into four educational towers ranging in height from five to seven stories. The facade of this unique arrangement is composed of over 12,000 custom-designed
Copenhagen-based firm Henning Larsen Architects recently finalized The Wave apartment complex in Vejle, Denmark, that features five interconnected, undulating towers that reflect in the fjord beside it. Its unique form is inspired by the dramatic landscape of the area, known for its deep inlets and steep, rolling hills, which are uncommon in Denmark. The eye-catching Wave, which stands out from the ubiquitous office buildings and historic, red brick buildings of downtown Vejle, serves as a distinctive sculptural landmark of the city. Construction of the 150,000-square-foot, 100-unit complex began over a decade ago, but it was stalled due to the 2008 global financial crisis. After a tumultuous 11 years, the rippling building is complete and has garnered widespread attention for its architectural tribute to Vejle’s local geography and cultural heritage. Even before its completion, the towers were named Residential Building of the Year by Building in 2009 and won an ABB Leaf Award and Prestigious Civic Trust Award in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Unlike the pace of construction, the apartment units are selling at a breakneck pace. According to the building’s website, three of the “waves” are already completely sold out, and only seven units remain overall. A 2,700-square-foot duplex on the top floor is still available, with an asking price of roughly $2 million.
The Danish government and Hvidovre, a city outside Copenhagen, are planning a series of nine artificial islands to house a new tech hub. The new archipelago, dubbed Holmene, will create over 33 million square feet of new land, 10.5 miles of new coastline, and, hopefully, 12,000 new jobs directly and up to 30,000 new jobs indirectly. The islands will set their buildings in over 170 acres of parkland intended for a variety of recreational uses. Holmene will rise next to Avedøre Holme, an existing industrial area outside of Copenhagen, and is meant to be a home for up to 380 businesses, ideally tech companies that will transform the area into "a sort of European Silicon Valley,” according to the head of the Danish chamber of commerce, Brian Mikkelsen, as reported in The Guardian. The project still has to be approved by the Danish parliament, but current estimates say that construction could begin in 2022 with the first island becoming inhabitable six years later, and the entire complex completed by 2040.
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Located within Copenhagen’s city center, a new housing development challenges traditional urban form, while offering new possibilities for shared collective space and sensitively-scaled infill development. Designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, the Axel Towers are a collection of five circular mid-rise buildings, named after their block “Axeltorv” which occupies a site nestled between prominent medieval and contemporary districts.
The redesign of the site, also by the architects, resulted in locating public outdoor space between the towers. This distributes an open and inviting building, with entrances to shops, cafes, and restaurants throughout the perimeter of the building at both the ground level and an elevated “city garden.” “As the project architects, architecturally and in regards of urban transformation, we do believe to have achieved a lot with Axel Towers.” said Michael Kvist, architect at Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter. “Having public functions incorporated is very important to generate and support city life in and around the building, and fulfill the vision of creating a new positive identity for Axeltorv and the surrounding area."Kvist said the unique massing of the development and the materiality of the facade were carefully developed to establish a scale for Axel Towers to the surrounding urban context. This is primarily evident in the height of the development, which sits below the surrounding high-rise buildings. The composition and location of the varying building heights for each tower was chosen in relation to both solar orientation and contextual massing of the surrounding buildings. Urbanistic principles of integrating public space into the development are highlighted by a “Skybar” restaurant on the 9th and 10th floors of one of the towers (Tower D) so that those who do not work in the building are given the opportunity to enjoy the view. Tombak—the chosen primary facade material—is tactile and patinas over time to a deep dark brown color. The material is a brass alloy combining 80% copper and 20% zinc. The architects, also considered pure copper and zinc, but rejected these for their brightness. They arrived at Tombak for it’s weathered surface qualities which, according to Kvist, “gives the towers substance and weight.” Besides screening the sun, the brise soleil is helping to scale the building to a human scale as well as in relation to the facade proportions of the Copenhagen karré buildings in the surrounding area. Furthermore, the brise soleil with the vertical fins placed in front of the panel joints in the facade blurs that the facade actually is faceted and thus maintain the illusion of the curved tower buildings. The cladding material forms an extended depth building envelope of nearly 20-inches. One of the challenges to a “thick” circular building envelope was the concern that windows would produce a “tunnel vision” effect. Through full scale mock-up studies, these concerns were mitigated, and the sizing of apertures was established. Facade contractor FKN Group worked closely with the architects and general contractor to develop consistency in detailing solutions and window configurations to facade composition which sought for differentiated and varied expression. FKN ultimately fabricated and installed the facade system on over 157,000-square-feet of facade area, composed of approximately 1,600 prefabricated elements. The facade design is divided into horizontal bands for each floor with variably spaced vertical shading fins. It combines panel elements, view glass elements, and tinted glass elements, of which variable facade composition affects height and diameter of individual units. The job site offered limited space allowing for only one crane for assembly. This required special coordination and choreography in the staging of deliveries construction. Kvist said the “Citygarden,” a public space on the first floor wedged between the towers is one of the successes of the project. “an alluring, intimately, varying and surprising urban space that embraces you and at the same time shows back to the surrounding city,” adding, “The Citygarden is open 24/7.”
The Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG)-designed Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhagen is finally set to wrap up later this year, and international firm SLA has revealed their final plan for the plant’s 170,000-square foot rooftop park. First revealed in 2011, the biomass-burning plant, with its ski slopes on the roof and a smokestack meant to belch ring-shaped clouds, instantly caught the internet’s attention. Amager Bakke is seen as major step in Copenhagen’s transition to a carbon-free city, as the plant will burn wood pellets made from rotting waste wood instead of coal. Because Amager Bakke is off the coast of the city center, BIG chose to approach the project as both a publicly accessible common area and a tourist attraction. Clad in a perforated aluminum façade that resembles oversized bricks, the power plant is 289-feet at its peak near the smokestack, but gently ramps downward to meet the ground and provides pathways for both walking and skiing. While the renderings released up until now have typically shown skiers tearing up snowy slopes, SLA has released renderings of how the roof will be planted in warmer weather. The extreme angle of the roof, combined with the building’s height, and temperatures reaching up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit due to boilers under the roof, meant that the plant selection had to be carefully curated. Several distinct biomes are seeded throughout the roof, including a “mountain” and “meadow” area, trees to shield guests from the wind, and laid out hiking and jogging trails that run alongside the 1,640-foot long ski slope. A fitness area has also been placed alongside the viewing platform at the roof’s peak, which visitors can reach by either hiking, or by summiting the building via a climbing wall at ground level. SLA hopes that other than being used as a year-round recreation space, Amager Bakke’s green roof will seed the rest of Copenhagen with city-friendly vegetation. According to Rasmus Astrup, a partner at SLA, “The rooftop’s nature is designed to attract and shelter a wide selection of birds, bees, butterflies and insects, which in itself will mean a dramatic increase in the biodiversity of the area. And utilizing natural pollination and seed dispersal will mean that we can spread the rooftop nature to also benefit the adjacent industry area, parking lots and infrastructure.” Amager Bakke is also well known for its smokestack, which Bjarke Ingels originally envisioned as being able to blow a ring of steam for every ton of carbon dioxide that the power plant emits. Following a successful Kickstarter in 2015 to build a prototype of the system, the “steam ring generator” will be included in the final design. Construction on the rooftop park is underway and will be completed in September of 2018.
The capital of the happiest country in the world, Denmark*, will soon get a new multi-purpose waterfront development. This week, Scandinavian architecture firm, C. F. Møller Landscape, won the “Nordhavn Islands” international competition to design part of the waterfront in the growing Nordhavn district, a harbor area in Copenhagen. The firm’s project proposes “an innovative learning, activity and water landscape” adjacent to a planned international school (which C. F. Møller is also designing). Three floating classrooms would give students opportunities to learn outside, even fish and kayak. The design blends a range of concepts—the urban park, the educational classroom, and the recreational community center—right on the waterfront. The Møller proposal features three separate “islands” ringed with low-maintenance plantings: “'The Reef,’ a multifunctional platform for aqua learning and events in extension of the quayside; ‘The Lagoon,' a floating arena for activities such as kayak polo and other water sports, and ‘The Sun Bath,’ an actual harbor bath with a sauna and protected areas for swimming training,” notes the firm in a press release. "We are passionate about creating new urban and landscape spaces that focus on integrating building and landscape because we believe that it adds value to the project concerned and to the city as a whole,” said C. F. Møller head, Lasse Palm, in a statement. Nordhavn Islands and the Copenhagen International School—that will be the largest school in the city—are expected to open summer 2017. *The United States is ranked the 13th happiest country by the way, in a recent report that found correlations between the happiness of a country's citizens with gross domestic product per-capita, social support, health, and other factors.
Architecture & Design Film Festival New York Through October 18, 2015 It's that time of year again. The Architecture & Design Film Festival is back with a roundup of films on architecture, design, and the built environment. It's a great way of taking the pulse of what's going on here and abroad, and how work is being represented to a wider public. https://vimeo.com/117273601 The films fall into two genres—by architect or designer, and by building. In the former, there is Concrete Love (read AN's review here), a beautifully made film by Maurizius Staerkle Drux about three generations of Böhm family architects, including Gottfried, the only German to win the Pritzker Prize. Ove Arup: The Philosopher Engineer, Henning Larsen—Light and Space, SlingShot about Dean Kamen, David Adjaye - Collaborations, and Talking to My Father on Irish modernist Robin Walker. https://youtu.be/hq-1BIaFjGc Talking to My Father is part of a subgenre of films made by the children of architects including Nathaniel Kahn's My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003) in searching of his father, Louis Kahn and My Father the Genius (2002) about Lucia Small's father, Glen. Whereas these two children were estranged, Simon Walker was close to his father and became an architect himself. He is now burnishing his father's legacy, recalling his apprenticeships with Corbusier and Mies, and trying to save his buildings. In SlingShot, Kamen is presented as more than just the man behind the Segway; he is an inventive spirit and problem-solver who is devoted to cracking big problems like clean water, and health issues—things we are running out of time to resolve. https://vimeo.com/61684753 The building-based films include Under the Skin of Design about the making of Ravensbourne (formerly the College of Design and Communication in London), the last building by Foreign Office Architects, Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island, where architecture by Todd Saunders shapes a program by the homegrown Shorefast Foundation to enliven this remote Newfoundland Island whose economy had nose-dived, Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion about the 1964 NY State Pavilion by Philip Johnson at the NY World's Fair (reviewed by AN here). https://youtu.be/MAPEioSNvDc The Infinite Happiness explores Bjarke Ingels' 8 House "vertical village" outside of Copenhagen. The film, which opened the festival, will give viewers a preview of VIA 57 WEST, the pyramid-shaped apartment building under construction on the far west side. Vignettes of mowing lawns, riding a unicycle, a children's treasure hunt, and a mailman offer glimpses of this self-contained world. An 8 House penthouse resident, Boris, who is originally from Bosnia, directly addresses Ingels: "Hello Bjarke. I think that... You are a madman. And that's with love. That's with affection. I think you created something of quality, something beautiful, something extraordinary... Is it living experiment? Is it social experiment? Is it just a product of the mad mind, extraordinary mind, a genius mind... I don't know what it is, but I feel privileged that I get a possibility to live (in) a place you built...Bjarke... I would like to borrow your brain, just a little."
As if the ski slope Bjarke Ingels placed on top of his new waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen wouldn't already make it the most interesting power plant in the world, the Danish architect wants the building's smokestack to puff smoke rings of carbon dioxide. Each ring will represent one ton of CO2 burned at the plant, which is being billed as the cleanest power plant on earth. Creating the world's first steam ring generator will be pretty tricky, but Ingels believes that with a crack team of combustion engineers and legitimate rocket scientists, and $15,000, he can prove that it's possible. As for the money thing, the starchitect, who recently purchased a $4 million penthouse in Brooklyn, would love for you to pitch in. Ingels has launched a $15,000 Kickstarter campaign to construct a third and final prototype of the smoke ring generator. Two smaller prototypes already proved to be pretty successful, so it's looking like Ingels and his team might actually pull this thing off. BIG is collaborating on this project with Peter Madsen's Rumlaboratorium and the Danish Technical University. "By sweeping nothing under the carpet, but rather projecting our carbon footprint onto the Copenhagen sky, we provide every single citizen intuitive information to help them inform the decisions they make for their lives and for the city that they want to live in," said BIG on the Kickstarter page. If all goes according to to plan, carbon dioxide smoke rings should be drifting over the Copenhagen sky in 2017.
Snøhetta, the New York and Oslo–based firm named after Norway's highest mountain range, is opening an office in Copenhagen. The new space opens on June 18th at the Danish Architecture Centre with an exhibit called World Architecture Snøhetta that invites Danes to come meet the firm. "The core of the exhibition is a sensory workshop where visitors can touch, smell, see, and hear how the many projects develop from concept to concrete work," Snøhetta said in a statement. "In photos and films, visitors are met by the Snøhettas who guide, involve and explain. As something entirely unique, visitors will have the opportunity to step into a virtual model and experience what architects are capable of without the help of technology—namely seeing the physical space on its own." Snøhetta is of course the Big Firm on Campus in Oslo—what, with its popular Opera House and all. Now, it's stepping directly into Bjarke Ingels Group territory, which itself is well known to use mountainous references in its design. But we're sure the two firms will play nice and, who knows, maybe this will result in some cool collaborations.
Bjarke Ingels opens this addition to his high school with a parkour video of a kid jumping off the walls
Since Bjarke Ingels graduated from Old Hellerup High School near Copenhagen, he's obviously become a bit of an architectural sensation. But that doesn't mean Ingels is too cool for school, specifically his former high school. In 2013, the architect created an undulating recreation center for the school's central courtyard that has a ribbed, almost cathedral-like wood ceiling. At the courtyard-level, the structure forms a a man-made hill where students can hang out between classes. And that was just the start of it. https://vimeo.com/117414392 As soon as that project was completed, BIG got to work on a two-story addition for the school which just wrapped construction. The new arts building provides a connection between the snazzy recreation center and the school's soccer—er, "football"—fields. BIG said the new space is intended to mesh with its first project, but not copy it. So where the rec center is primarily concrete with some wood finishes, the new building has wooden walls and concrete floors and ceilings. The building meets the street from underneath the existing fields, which it lifts up by two stories. The building's roof extends the fields, creating a so-called "green carpet for informal activity." The result looks quite similar to Kiss + Cathcart's Bushwick Inlet Park pavilion in Brooklyn. BIG also proposed a similar trick in its Smithsonian master plan. “My high-school, formerly introverted and dispersed, has become open and integrated through two focused interventions. Even though each phase is autonomous and complete – their introduction in to the mix has completely reconfigured the sum of the parts," said Ingels in a statement. "Like a catalyst or an enzyme–once inserted–all the surrounding substance transforms into something completely new.” Since this is the Bjarke Ingels Group, the announcement of the building's completion of course comes with a flashy video (up above). So you can watch as "'free-runner" Bjarke Hellden backflips through the school.
With Bjarke Ingels’ pyramid-like tower—dubbed the “courtscraper”—rising quickly on Manhattan’s West Side, the globe-trotting architect has unveiled plans for his latest sloping project. And this one has the Dane back in Denmark. In his home country, in the city of Aarhus, Bjarke has created “Aarhus Island,” a mixed-use development along the water. Like so much of his residential work, Bjarke has gone angular at the island. In Aarhus, the architect creates stepped towers that rise to defined peaks. According to DesignBoom, which first reported the plans, these residential buildings include more than 200 units. At the water’s edge, the sharp lines of those structures meet the curved edges of an extensive boardwalk. This structure wraps around the development and includes an amphitheater, cafes and shops, floating swimming pools, and a sandy beach-like area. With all the tanning bodies in the renderings you almost forget that Aarhus Island is in Denmark and not say, a country where the average summertime temperature is above 70 degrees fahrenheit. Can't win them all. Work is slated to begin next year with the first components of Aarhus Island opening in 2017. Get those swim trunks ready!