Go BIG or Go Home

June 7, 2016


Encouraging healthy creative dialogue is very important to our design culture at Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture. Regularly, we have someone in the office put together a design presentation for a lunch time discussion. These dialogues spark a lively debate and keeps the creative juices flowing. When I was asked to put together the next presentation, I wanted to look at how the buildings we design can have a larger effect on the community; be about more than addressing a program statement line by line.


What fascinates me most is how great architecture can take the most overlooked part of a city and turn it into a thriving community center. The Amager Resource Center by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is a great example of how creative thinking can yield a project that is above and beyond what an owner could even imagine. In this case, the competition project’s program was simple enough: create a waste treatment plant in the industrial outskirts of Copenhagen. But Bjarke had other ideas. He saw this as an opportunity to create a cultural experience by designing a better connection between the residents and their power generation. He transformed an industrial park into a tourist attraction.


Through the design process, BIG developed an idea to give the building a second purpose as a ski slope/Visitor Center. This solves a major cultural issue Danish people face. While many Danes love to ski, Denmark is completely flat requiring travel to Sweden in order to ski.








// Diagrams courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group


One of the things BIG is known for is their form and program diagrams that graphically show the viewer how the design was developed. This style has proved to be a very effective tool for representing how BIG’s designs can positively impact the community.



Graphic section showing how the industrial elements of the program were organized according to height requirements which allowed the creation of the continuous sloping roof top ski slope // All images courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group


Overall aerial rendering showing the form of the project // Renderings courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

Construction photo 1

Amager Resource Center under construction // Photo courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group

BIG took a tremendous risk by submitting this design which looks beyond the scope of the program brief. The end result will be a spectacular piece of architecture that will serve the community far better than a typical solution. Most importantly, this project is under construction, proving that big concepts can be built and not just talked about. While we will have to wait until the Amager Resource Center opens in late 2017 to fully realize the impact of this project, it represents the important idea that as architects, we can look to solve issues that weren’t initially identified.

And, despite the fact that not every project can be as grand in scale as a ski slope over the top of a waste processing plant, Sacramento could really benefit from asking “What if…?” a little more often. Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture strives to be in the middle of this type of dialogue.

Here is a timelapse of the construction: