Most modern cities are still plagued by huge dull and gray industrial buildings. Buildings such as factories and powerplants. What do these have and common and why are they so ugly? Well basically, they are completely functional structures - They are designed in a way that only serves their function, and in a way that is as economically cheap as possible. The result of designing in such a manner has resulted in massive unwelcoming structures, that are intended solely for the use of workers and for production. To be fair, there are people who actually like such buildings and rural industrial areas, due to the murky and somewhat mysterious dystopian spaces that they create, but let's face the facts, I can surely say that the majority of the public dislikes such buildings and areas. But what if such buildings were to be made more welcoming to the general public? What if industrial buildings and their surroundings became areas of great entertainment and pleasant places, which one would joyfully want to visit?
The picture above is a rendering of the infamous Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels' (BIG) newest project. The project is a design for a waste-to-energy plant just four kilometers from downtown Copenhagen. As you may have noticed, the building may not look much look as a traditional industrial plant, and guess what, it really isn't. As a matter of fact it as a building that flirts with architectural styles of the likes of Las Vegas. The thing about this structure is, that besides being a waste-to-energy plant... It also functions as an all-year ski slope!
Now having mentioned the possibilites of making industrial areas more appealing to the general public, this is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Making a building that normally would repeal people into a tourist magnet and a popular activity area (and yes, I'm quite sure that this building will become extremely popular, due to the fact that Denmark has just about no mountains, and quite the few skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts). There is no doubt that this sort of industrial architecture can render empty industrial areas into the likes of amusement parks! By going for a Las Vegas Effect in a desert of industry, this building may just prove that rethinking such structures can perhaps change the ways people interact with entire neighbourhoods.
It is of course too early to judge the success of this building. The concept seems ideal, but even so, time has proven that anything can happen in the world of architecture. This new waste-to-energy plant has furthermore some (discussible) flaws and issues, such as aesthetic problematics. The thing on that point, is that I believe that the structure is just a bit too massive. It is clear that it is supposed to symbolize a mountain with the ski slopes and everything, but I have to tell you that the area around it is rather flat, so the structure might become far too dominant. Furthermore, some details about the concept seem a bit kitschy, such as the pine trees on some of the levels of the structure - This, I believe, crosses the border between a symbolic mountain design, and one that almost directly resembles a mountain, thus once again creating a bit of a cheesy structure. But that of course is a thing of aesthetical opinion. Besides such details, I believe this structure will dramatically change the attractiveness of the industrial area, and might as a matter of fact begin a new architectural trend in industrial design. Who knows, we might just end up having rollercoasters on factories and waterparks in warehouses some day!
Further reading: http://www.big.dk/
- Andy Minchev