Green energy enclosed in a forest

Kerry Boettcher
Friday 15 May 2015

Gottlieb Paludan Architects have won the competition to design the new biomass unit on the Amagerværket power plant in Copenhagen

Located only 2km from downtown Copenhagen, the Amagaerværket power plant is a massive building, with high architectural and sustainability demands. The new unit, called BIO4 is biomass-fired and is built as part of Greater Copenhagen Utility and Copenhagen Local Authority’s joint ambition to make Copenhagen the world’s first CO2-neutral capital.

The BIO4 unit will be located in a central position in the Copenhagen cityscape in the vicinity of other iconic buildings, opposite the old Kastellet fortress and behind the Copenhagen Opera House. For that reason, the architectural expression of the 46-metre building played a crucial role in the competition. 

Jesper Gottlieb describes the winning architectural vision: “The recurrent theme in our proposal is the forest as a place and a source of CO2-neutral biofuel. We develop the forest theme in the design of the façade by hanging tree trunks, which create a surprising aesthetic and spatial experiences both from afar and close up. The trunks’ lifetime is more than 30 years, and if the trunks are worn out before the phasing out of the power plant, the trunks will be ground into wood chips and fired into the plant’s furnaces. The forest theme finds further development in the master plan, where native plant species create a green and luxuriant environment surrounding the CHP plant.” 

The building envelope behind the trunks will also contribute to the strong architectural expression. The façade will capture the interplay between light and shadow generated by the tree trunks and the building envelope. 

“The façade behind the trunks will be clad in gold-coloured metal sheets which will reinforce the natural glow of the forest. And the top of the boiler house which is visible above the trunk façade will be covered in golden-coloured cassettes which will reflect the light, creating a new distinct dome on the Copenhagen skyline.”

The BIO4 unit is to become a leading example of sustainable energy production and an attraction for visitors from all over the world. Visitors will be able to view the forest of tree trunks close up via a spectacular staircase. They will also be able to see first-hand how sustainable energy is produced. The stairs lead to a viewing platform with green plantings and an information area, where visitors can learn more about green energy and sustainability. 

Gottlieb concludes: “In this way, we create a story that you can actually enter into, a story about the forest and about the transition to sustainable energy.”

The prestige project also includes designing new premises for the administration, laboratories, workshops and welfare facilities, and producing a green, forward-looking master plan for Amagerværket. 

The WAN 2015 Sustainable Buildings Award is now open for entries. 

The original competition was posted by WAN’s Business Information service in November 2014. The full competition brief can be found here. For a free trial contact Katerina Hojgrova. 

Kerry Boettcher

News editor

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