While warm weather is expanding across the United States, residents of Kazakhstan are embracing the cold winter weather they are receiving. The residents of Slalom House, a 21-story apartment block in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, may be getting an over-the-top amenity: a 1,000-foot ski slope. Shokhan Mataibekov, an active skier and member of the Union of Architects of Kazakhstan, has made a proposal for the residential ski slope based on the fact that residents don’t have access to a nearby facility. At a price tag of approximately $70 million, the year-round rooftop ski slope would be track mounted and comprised of Snowflex, a synthetic material that mimics the slip and grip of real snow. But, you may be thinking, where have I seen this concept before? Oh, that's right, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG are designing "the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world" in Copenhagen, which is also outfitted with a built-in ski slope and a chimney that releases smoke rings periodically. BIG's plans have been in the works since 2011, and the plant is slated for completion in 2017. The Slalom House was shortlisted in the Future Residential projects category at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Singapore in November. The design included space for both retailers and food outlets on the building’s lower half, 421 two-bedroom apartments on the upper half, and a separate entrance outfitted with panoramic elevators that would provide access to the top of the building. The project has been submitted to the city officials and is currently under review.
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Grand Prairie, Texas, has been spared what could have been the nation’s first indoor ski resort and Hard Rock Hotel. The project’s developer, The Grand Alps Group, pulled the $215 million proposal after a meeting with Grand Prairie’s mayor and city manager. They were not happy about losing the big fish. “We were a little surprised,” City Manager Tom Hart told the Dallas Morning News. “We thought we had a pretty good meeting.” In a press release, Sherman Thurston, Grand Alps’ CEO, cited a disagreement about “terms and conditions and costs” as his reason for pulling out of the deal. Apparently the $30 million in tax exemptions, offer to purchase half the land, and return of 75 percent of the hotel-motel taxes that Grand Prairie promised Thurston wasn’t enough to convince the developer, who claims to already have financing in place to build the project, including $100 million from foreign investors, mostly Chinese. Grand Alps is currently looking for other possible sites in the Dallas–Fort Worth area.
This mall looks like it should be built in Dubai, but it's actually planned in Miami as the nation's largest
The slew of stories on the death of the American shopping mall has not deterred one real estate company from submitting plans to build the largest shopping and entertainment center in the country. The Miami Herald reported that the ambitious plan comes from the Triple 5 Group, a company that knows a thing or two about big malls—it owns and runs the Mall of America in Minnesota. Apparently not satisfied with letting that mall remain the nation's largest, the developer has unveiled designs for something even larger in Miami-Dade County. If you ignore the mall's very 1950s, Americana-sounding name, "American Dream Miami," it looks like something you might find in Dubai or a Chinese city, but, no, the 200-acre complex is planned for the good ol' U.S. of A. So, what does the American Dream include? Well, restaurants and shops, and hotels and condominiums, and mini golf, and a theme park, and a skating rink, and a Legoland, a Ferris wheel, and indoor gardens, and—get ready for these two—a sea-lion show and a "submarine lake." Oh, and in a very Dubai-move, it also has a 12-story indoor ski slope. Sorry, one more thing—there is also some sort of telescope situation poking out of what appears to be the "ski dome." For the American Dream to become a reality, the developer first needs a change in zoning to move things along. From there, things get a little tricky. Triple 5 could acquire most of its required land from a private company, but 80 acres of the site is owned by the state. And, as the Herald pointed out, the Miami-Dade school system has a lease on a big chunk of that acreage. Apparently, Triple 5 would give the school system $7 million to waive its lease and another $11 million to the state for the rest of the land. Triple 5 could also be asked to fund mass transit improvements in the area. The plan will reportedly be considered by county commissioners and the school board later this month.
Against all odds, BIG-founder Bjarke Ingels is actually building a mountain-slash-ski-slope-slash-waste-to-energy-power-plant in his hometown of Copenhagen. Announced in 2011, the project nearly stalled during the approval process, but officials in the Danish capital broke ground on the facility on Monday. Called the Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant, the structure represents Ingels' concept of Hedonistic Sustainability, the notion that a sustainable building shouldn't only be green, but should also be fun. And the Amager Bakke design certainly will be a tourist draw to Copenhagen's industrial waterfront, inviting visitors to ascend to the top of the facility via elevators and ski down its sloping rooftop year round. Several slopes to accommodate varying skill levels are included on the roof where a synthetic material serves as snow. Evergreen trees at the periphery of the slopes complete the Alpine scene. The facade is imagined as a checkerboard modular planters resembling oversized bricks with windows with facing an interior atrium in between. A slender chimney at the building's peak, updated from the original design, releases smoke rings periodically, indicating when one ton of CO2 has been released into the atmosphere. In 2011, the price of the incinerator was estimated at $645 million.
Where one architect might see an incinerator, Bjarke Ingels, principal at Dutch firm BIG, envisions a ski slope. Ingels has been fond of the mountain typology and he hasn't been all that subtle about it, giving projects names like Mountain Dwellings and emblazoning Mount Everest on the side. In his latest competition-winning proposal for Copenhagen, BIG takes the concept one step further, with a mountain you can actually ski down. Perhaps more accurately, the $645 million waste-to-energy facility is a volcano, periodically spewing smoke rings from its summit every time one ton of CO2 has been released into the atmosphere. BIG (with realities:united, AKT, Topotek 1, and Man Made Land) clad the building with a modular grid of planters and windows resembling oversize bricks. The rooftop "snow" will actually be made of a synthetic granular material that “The new plant is an example of what we at BIG call Hedonistic Sustainability – the idea that sustainability is not a burden, but that a sustainable city in fact can improve our quality of life," said Bjarke Ingels in a statement. "The Waste-to-Energy plant with a ski slope is the best example of a city and a building which is both ecologically, economically and socially sustainable.” While the sheer industrial scale of power plants often captures the imagination of many architects, the notion that a power plant might invite its city to approach and interact, even ski on top of it, is so new it borders on absurd, but we have to agree with David Zahle, partner at BIG, who said in a statement, "I can’t wait to ski on a base of clean and green energy with a view over the city in 2016.”