An imaginative design for an energy plant topped with a ski-slope roof -- just named one of the "50 Best Inventions" of 2011 by Time magazine in November -- has faced a major speed bump.
The Copenhagen architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) won a competition in January of this year to create a waste-to-energy plant for an industrial neighborhood outside of the Danish capital that aimed to provide energy and revitalize the area via design. BIG's Amagerforbraending concept called for a roof with a set of fully functioning, artificial ski runs on top. The playful, yet pragmatic idea was to attract tourists, skiers, and snowboarders year-round. It was projected to open by 2016. But on December 6, the city of Copenhagen denied the high-profile project a loan guarantee of $4 billion.
The reason, despite the international media attention BIG's design has received? It was potentially damaging to the environment, Copenhagen city officials concluded. The project proposed that the plant's new incinerators burn 30% more waste annually than the existing one. That would result in an increase in CO2 emissions from 140,000 tons to 200,00 per year.
While the loan hasn't been guaranteed, the project isn't completely rejected. But it's unlikely to reach the scale and scope of BIG's proposal, which intended to not only turn the factory-dotted outskirts of Copenhagen into a recreational destination, but also make visitors aware of how their city's energy is generated. How? BIG's design calls for skiers and snowboarders to take a glass-walled elevator to the top of the ski runs, so they will be forced to witness the plant's interior functions while reaching the top of the slope.
Now, with news of the funding denial and the design's projected increased CO2 emissions, Copenhagen's residents are certainly more aware of the site's energy production details. But their odds of zooming down the roof of a new power plant on skis have decreased as well--at least for now.