BIG's Copenhill Is World Building of the Year

John Hill
4. December 2021
Photo: Rasmus Hjortshøj

Copenhill, also known as Amager Bakke, the waste-to-energy plant topped with a ski slope in Copenhagen, was judged the top prize at the annual World Architecture Festival that was held virtually this year. Here we present some images of the design by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group and other winners at WAF.

World Building of The Year at World Architecture Festival 2021

Held annually since 2008 in Barcelona, Singapore, Berlin, Amsterdam, and other world cities, this year's WAF, like last year's cancelled event, was planned to be held in Lisbon but was bumped into the virtual realm due to travel restrictions arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Covering both 2020 and 2021, nearly 500 projects were in the running across more than 30 categories in the festival's best-in-show format, in which architects gave digital presentations to juries in each category and the winners moved on to the super juries. BIG's Copenhill won in the Production, Energy & Recycling category and then was crowned World Building of The Year on Friday, December 3, by the super jury that included WAF's Paul Finch, FRAC's Abdelkader Damani, Mecanoo's Nuno Gonçalves Fontarra, 3XN Architects' Kim Herforth Nielsen, and Christina Seilern of Studio Seilern Architects.

World Building of the Year 2021: Coppenhill / Amager Bakke in Copenhagen by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Photo: Rasmus Hjortshøj)

What did the jury have to say about Copenhill, the fourteenth World Building of the Year winner? Speaking on their behalf in a statement, Finch praised the way the building "addresses the role of architecture in the new world of recycling and zero carbon. It treats infrastructure projects in a way which makes people say 'Yes in my back yard' rather than 'no.' It encourages designers to think beyond the brief, to argue for ideas, and to ride the tides of politics and economics in the pursuit of the socially beneficial. And it reminds us that buildings can be fun!"

World Building of the Year 2021: Coppenhill / Amager Bakke in Copenhagen by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Photo: Laurian Ghinitoiu)

The 41,000 m2 Copenhill plant replaced an adjacent 50-year-old waste-to-energy plant, adding a ski slope, hiking trail, and climbing wall to the large piece of industrial infrastructure to embody the "notion of hedonistic sustainability while aligning with Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025," per BIG. The ski slope extending from the building's high point to the ground is not arbitrary: its arises from the placement of machinery beneath the slope in the order of their heights. The recreational center atop the energy plant has been so popular in the two years since it opened Fonden Amager Bakke and CopenHill A / S is already replacing parts of the ski surface.

World Building of the Year 2021: Coppenhill / Amager Bakke in Copenhagen by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Photo: Soren Aagaard)

World Interior of the Year at INSIDE Festival of Interiors 2021

Held concomitantly with WAF, the INSIDE Festival of Interiors also named its highest honor, World Interior of the Year, on Friday: Atelier tao+c's Capsule Hostel and Bookstore in Zhejiang, China, beat over 100 projects competing in eleven categories. Located in the deep forests of Tonglu in Zhejiang province, the project transformed an old wooden house with mud walls into a hotel accommodating up to twenty people, a community bookstore, and a library. Original floors and partitions were removed and modular capsules were inserted for the hotel, with the ground floor used for the library and bookstore.

World Interior of the Year at INSIDE Festival of Interiors 2021: Capsule Hostel and Bookstore in Zhejiang, China, by Atelier tao+c. (Photo: Su Shengliang)

The super jury selecting the Capsule Hotel and Bookstore was made up of Nigel Coates, Oliver Salway, Johnny Chiu, Yael Reisner, and Manuelle Gautrand. According to a statement from the festival, the jury was impressed with the project's "sensitive and inventive remodeling of a modest traditional building in a remote setting. A cross between a beehive, a climbing frame and a pagoda, this building is exceptionally skillful and entertaining. A beautiful hybrid idea executed with poetry, sophistication, and warmth."

World Interior of the Year at INSIDE Festival of Interiors 2021: Capsule Hostel and Bookstore in Zhejiang, China, by Atelier tao+c. (Photo: Su Shengliang)

Other Winners Announced at WAF 2021:

  • Landscape of the Year 2021: SLA Architects for Al Fay Park in Abu Dhabi
  • Future Project of the Year 2021: Studio V Architecture for Silo City in Buffalo, New York
  • WAFX Award 2021: William Ti, Jr. for Horizon Manila
  • Architecture Photography Award 2021: Liu Xinghao for "Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic"

Landscape of the Year 2021: Al Fay Park in Abu Dhabi by SLA Architects (Photo: Philip Handforth)
Future Project of the Year 2021: Silo City in Buffalo, New York, by Studio V Architecture
WAFX Award Winner 2021: Horizon Manila by William Ti, Jr. (Visualization: William Ti, Jr.)
Overall Winner of the Architectural Photography Awards: Liu Xinghao from China with "Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic," in the shadow of Raffles City, Chongqing, China by Safdie Architects. (Photo: Liu Xinghao)

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