Copenhagen opens world’s first ski slope above a power plant

Copenhagen has opened the doors to the world’s first artificial ski slope above a waste incinerator. Danish architects conceived the idea in 2011 — a “great example of hedonistic sustainability” — and started developing the project in 2017. The plant will burn waste from about 600,000 residences and 68,000 businesses to produce electricity and heating, while skiers above fly down a 450-metre green slope covered in neveplast. The project is part of Copenhagen’s plans to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city.

“There are absolutely no hills or mountains in Denmark”, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels tells Adrienne Murray of BBC.

“So we got to the idea that we could actually create a manmade mountain for alpine skiing.”

His firm is behind the design of a new artificial ski slope in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, built on the roof of a huge incinerator that burns waste to produce heat and electricity.

“A power plant doesn’t have to be some kind of ugly box that blocks the views or casts shadows on its neighbours. It can actually be, maybe the most popular park in a city,” says Mr Ingels.

Amager Bakke is billed as one of the cleanest waste-to-energy plants in the world, thanks to technology that filters its emissions.

It was switched on in 2017, and this Friday the ski area opens to the public. The project has been almost a decade in the making and cost €550m ($600m; £490m) to build.

Bakke means hill in Danish. For a country whose highest point is a mere 170m (550ft), the new 85m summit has become a landmark and has also stirred debate about how best to handle the city’s waste.

“There has been quite a lot of construction challenges,” explains Christian Ingels, the general manager of Copenhill. The rooftop is leased to his firm which runs the recreational area.

Extra precautions had to be in place, before the public could be allowed to ski above the incinerator and high-pressure steam system.

“It is the first time anyone [has] ventured out on this path… a lot of safety installations have been made.”

From the plant’s rooftop there are views over the city, harbour and the heavy industry close by. Apartment blocks stand just a couple of hundred metres away.