In Copenhagen, they’ve combined energy production with recreation. (Photo: Ehrhorn Hummerston)
The intersection of winter athletics, sustainability and hygge (that Danish quality of coziness) has birthed a new travel destination, and it opened to the public on October 4.
CopenHill, also known as Amager Bakke, is a Copenhagen-based heat and waste-to-power plant designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group and built in 2017. It’s also a place where people go to have fun, and it has launched its newest attraction: an artificial ski and snowboard slope.
The power plant building, which burns waste instead of fossil fuel, is in line with Copenhagen’s goal of being the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Bjarke Ingels Group’s founder Bjarke Ingels said in an opening-day statement, “CopenHill is a blatant architectural expression of something that would otherwise have remained invisible: that it is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world.”
CopenHill burns waste and turns the exhaust into heat and electricity for tens of thousands of households in Copenhagen.
Its artificial ski area is 400 meters long, and it includes four slopes of varying difficulty, a freestyle park and slalom course. It doesn’t rely on natural snow or human-made snow production and helps promote sustainable tourism to Denmark year-round.
CopenHill charges an hourly fee of around $33 for time on the slopes and insurance, but use of the running trails and climbing wall are free.
Three button-operated magic carpets will take skiers and snowboarders to the top of the “mountain,” and, just like a true ski mountain, guests can use their own equipment or rent.
For guests who eschew downhill rides, there’s also a climbing wall, a running track and a café/aprés-ski area.
Ingels called CopenHill “a crystal clear example of hedonistic sustainability,” noting that “a sustainable city is not only better for the environment – it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.”
Denmark is cold in winter but has no mountains – so, as Ingels pointed out, adding a ski section to the area gives some topographical diversity to the country.
It’s not the first place to figure out a way to integrate winter sports into architecture and urban planning.
A megacomplex in Dubai houses the world’s tallest residential tower and an indoor ski slope, and Shanghai opened what it claims is the largest indoor ski resort last year.
And now thanks to CopenHill, snowsports and that apres-ski hygge vibe are also more accessible in Copenhagen.