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Behold the CopenHill Energy Plant and Urban Recreation Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, Arch-Daily’s “Building-of-the-Year,” designed by the super-hot Bjarke Ingels Group… embodying all the tragic contradictions of the contemporary condition: the desperate desire to connect to “nature” (and to have fun in it!), and the depressing dependence on massive amounts of electric  power generation to maintain the high standard of living that leaves so much time for fun outdoor recreation in what remains of nature.

The structure is a waste-to-energy plant — which implies that a pretty high waste-stream is required to run the thing… which implies that you must have a society that produces immense amounts of waste. Hmmmm…. From the Arch-Daily website:

Beneath the slopes, whirring furnaces, steam, and turbines convert 440,000 tons of waste annually into enough clean energy to deliver electricity and district heating for 150,000 homes. The necessities of the power plant to complete this task, from ventilation shafts to air-intakes, help create the varied topography of a mountain; a man-made landscape created in the encounter between the needs from below and the desires from above. Ten floors of administrative space are occupied by the ARC team, including a 600m2 education center for academic tours, workshops and sustainability conferences.”

Unfortunately, nature herself has not furnished the flat little nation of Denmark with much in the way of ski-able terrain. (Must be pretty darn good for bicycling, though.) The set-up includes a “tree-lined hiking trail.” At the top is a “viewing plateau” and a cafe. I don’t think it was meant to be a joke, but….

Thanks to Abby Kinney for the nomination.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

10 Responses to “May 2021”

  1. tom clark May 4, 2021 at 7:30 pm #

    Where are the artificial snow machines? You have to admit the smokestacks add an ethereal effect.

  2. James Kuehl May 5, 2021 at 11:51 am #

    Anyone for miniature golf?

  3. tucsonspur May 5, 2021 at 3:07 pm #

    At first, the perplexing question was, what kind of infertile, febrile minds could concoct such a colossal calamity? The attempt here at unifying nature and industry results in a structure that is astoundingly unblushing and hideous in its disharmony.

    But…It isn’t really out of place considering its industrial surroundings, and its net energy efficiency is ranked near the top for this kind of facility, supplying heat and electricity to the Copenhagen area by incinerating waste. Scrubbers supposedly clean up the emissions, and negative pressures are used to stem the stench and nip that nasty nausea in the bud.

    It seemed at first glance that this synergetic, nature-recreation- energy enterprise should be suctioned under into its own stagy, smoke stacked sarcophagus. But like a fungus, it kind of grows on you when thinking about need, necessity and novelty. More people, more waste upon the land, more energy to expand.

    Its design contains some trace of the Ziggurat of Ur, but now one can only dream about those splendid structures, not build them.

    What’s not to like? Skiing, wall climbing, hiking, even a cafe for apres ski socializing, sipping what is hopefully not incinerated espresso while your group gazes over warehouses, smokestacks, and storage tanks in the haze shrouded distance. Though not visible in the picture, sailboats are a plus somewhere out there in the ‘merchants’ harbor’.

    Some may find it stimulating to watch a wall climber splatter onto the slope, maybe taking out a few obnoxious ‘snow’ boarders while he was at it.

    Workers clad in steampunk attire would be appropriate, and those steampunk goggles would look smashing on the slopes.

    Did they change the First Law of Thermodynamics? The answer is no. You need energy to create energy, and I couldn’t readily find the amounts of fuel needed to burn the waste. Maybe it’s equal to the slope of the ski slope squared or something even more bizarre. And where in hell are the moguls, I’ve got energy to burn! Uh, oh. I better be careful. My desires may just meet the ‘needs from below.’

  4. bymitch May 6, 2021 at 8:36 pm #

    As for loads of rubbish, this is, by far, the best I have ever seen.
    Hats off to Bjarke Ingels for adding value to a potentially very ugly brief.
    Credit where credit is due.
    For me, the eyesore is more likely to come in the form of some of the lycra clad inhabitants.

  5. Ishabaka May 7, 2021 at 9:55 am #

    How, exactly does burning 880,000,000 pounds of garbage equal “clean energy”?

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  6. jeff2002 May 7, 2021 at 12:00 pm #

    My first impression was that of a long Par-5 (at least), double dogleg right, steeply uphill to the tiny green. Might make a good finishing hole for a finished civilization.

    • SG-71 May 24, 2021 at 1:07 am #

      Lol. Well said. I also notice no 19th hole at the top.

  7. Chippenhook May 12, 2021 at 12:15 pm #

    This takes ugly eyesore to a whole new level. The worst part is it is so large it is impossible for people to make believe it isn’t there.

  8. spikedpsycho May 13, 2021 at 11:11 pm #

    “the depressing dependence on massive amounts of electric power generation to maintain the high standard of living that leaves so much time for fun outdoor recreation in what remains of nature”

    Like blogging is an energy efficient activity, I guess he forgot his printing press.

    Nuclear is Cleaner. And they could have fit a small reactor on the same site foot print.
    Kuntzle romanticizes antiquated energy like many an environmentalist Dbag. Before coal became widely available, wood was used not just for heating homes but also for industrial processes; it was the prdominant energy source for humanity. Even if half the land surface of Britain had been covered with woodland we could have made 1.25 million tonnes of bar iron a year (a fraction of current consumption) and nothing else. Even with a much lower population than today’s, manufactured goods in the land-based economy were the preserve of the elite. Deep green energy production – decentralised, based on the products of the land – is far more damaging to humanity than nuclear meltdown. Nuclear’s biggest advantage besides the fact it doesn’t atmospherically pollute.
    – 24/7 availability
    – no new grid infrastructure, integrates with existing systems.
    – With an energy density of 80 Terajoules per kilogram, you’d have to burn 4000 tons of wood for the same energy.

  9. tom clark June 2, 2021 at 4:09 pm #

    Hey Jimbo…it’s June 2…where’s the EOTM?

    Curious minds want to know.