Amager Bakke – Copenhagen Waste-to-Energy Plant: take a look at our short documentary on turning a crazy dream into reality.

Amager Bakke, a waste-to-energy plant designed by the Danish company BIG Architects, is unique both in terms of its architecture and environmental footprint, ranking among the most modern buildings of its kind in Denmark. The managers from Sipral are now looking back at the 6 years of its construction in the form of a short 7-minute time-lapse documentary film. The film premiered at the Film and Architecture 2020 festival. The film was created by Ondřej Pekárek.
“In our view, it is absolutely essential to bring something completely original into a project. In the Amager Bakke waste-to-energy plant, it is the ski slope on the roof of the building. We expected that this would be exactly the part people all over the world would talk about. People are more interested in unique details like this rather than the technicalities of incinerating waste. The location is another unique aspect of the project. The building is not situated in an industrial part of the city as you might expect. It stands a mere 400 metres from the royal palace – the Queen of Denmark can see it directly from her window. This is another reason why the building had to look attractive. It was our objective to design the building in such a way that people visiting Copenhagen would go see it and remember it too,” said Claus Hermansen, project manager and architect in the BIG Architects studio 5 years ago, at the initial stage of the project.
“You first see the project as it appears in visualisations, then you see it in photos – but once you see the building in person, it just takes your breath away! It’s so much bigger, nicer, more colourful, more lively – it’s just monumental! It speaks of the courage of the architects and the investor. The project itself has several ‘wow’ features. The first ‘wow’ is the façade. Our ‘bricks’ create stunning visual effects that you just can’t take your eyes off. The second ‘wow’ comes when you enter the plant – the sight can make you go weak in the knees. The entire thing is a giant steel maze, something straight out of Jules Verne’s novels. The incineration process puts Amager Bakke on par with the most environmentally friendly waste incineration facilities in the world. All of this would be enough, but then BIG came up with the idea to invest a little extra and add another crazy element to the project, elevating the incineration plant to a city landmark, adding to its genius loci. This approach is bold and admirable. The added value is immeasurable and difficult to appreciate from other countries’ perspective. This, for me personally, is the biggest ‘wow’ of the entire project,” says Radim Koštial, CEO UK & Export and member of the Board of Directors of Sipral.
Ondřej Pekárek, the author of the documentary film, sums up his work: “The film on the Amager Bakke project spans over 6 years of shooting, consisting of over 18 hours and 1 TB of raw footage. The plant is located only a few kilometres from the city centre and is visible from vantage points such as The Little Mermaid, the Royal Palace and the Opera House. The façade’s colours change throughout the day. Because of this, I had to ride tens of kilometres on a bike (the quintessential Copenhagen means of transport) each day just to capture the perfect shot. On the opening date of the ski slope, we had the opportunity of having the entire thing all for ourselves for filming. Experienced skiers were astonished to find out that skiing on the artificial surface chosen by BIG Architects was very similar to skiing on actual snow. The ride is really fun and fast. Its exceptionality is magnified by the sights of the sea. Few places in the world can provide an experience like that.”