Wait, What’s Happening at BIG’s CopenHill Ski Slope?

The artificial ski slope that tops Bjarke Ingels Group’s CopenHill power plant is showing signs of wear and will need to undergo gradual repairs, but both BIG and the owner deny claims that the facility faces permanent closure.

The ARC waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen. Photography by Soren Aagaard

When Bjarke Ingels Group first unveiled CopenHill, a waste-to-energy power plant topped with an artificial ski slope in Copenhagen, it was immediately hailed as a game-changing concept that elevated the firm to new heights. Not only does the facility convert 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy annually, but it’s topped off with a 96,000-square-foot ski slope and hiking area. The unprecedented fusion of clean energy and joyful leisure, which Ingels describes as “hedonistic sustainability,” appears as if pulled straight from a sci-fi fantasy film and remains one of the firm’s career-defining projects. 

Earlier this week, CopenHill’s future was called into question after The Copenhagen Post claimed the ski slope may face permanent closure. The Danish newspaper reported that its surface has deteriorated “alarmingly quickly” and that renovation work, which will cost $1.07 million, would take nearly three years. (The prolonged closure is due in part to a liability spat between the Amager Bakke Foundation, which operates the facility, and the insurance company Tryg.) The news shocked the architecture community, which noted that CopenHill opened in October 2019 and likely experienced less foot traffic than usual during the pandemic.

Photography by Hufton+Crow

After rumors of the closure circulated online, the Amager Bakke Foundation denied claims that CopenHill will permanently close. In a statement on its website, it acknowledged that the surface has deteriorated more quickly than anticipated but notes that repairs will be made piecemeal while the slope remains open. “When the ski base needs to be replaced, it’s done in smaller areas at a time,” the statement says. “It will therefore not go beyond opening hours, and you’ll continue to be able to ski in the areas that are not in the process of being replaced.” 

A spokesperson for Bjarke Ingels Group reiterated those claims in a statement provided to the Architect’s Newspaper: “We can confirm that there are discussions happening about the ski carpet, but the owner has ensured that the ski hill is definitely not going to be closed down for a longer period of time.” Now projected to last only four months, the repairs also won’t conflict with the power plant’s operations, which will continue to deliver enough clean energy for 150,000 homes across Copenhagen. 

Regardless of what happens, there’s really something to be said about the Danish work-life balance if they wore out the ski slope that quickly.

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