CopenHill, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has been named the World Building of the Year at the 2021 World Architecture Festival (WAF). 

The plant, which converts waste to energy, reached completion in 2019 after a decade-long design process. Unlike many waste treatment plants, CopenHill is a tourist destination, comprising a number of amenities including a 9,000 sqm artificial ski slope that sits on top of the plant, a rooftop bar, climbing wall and a 490-metre hiking and running trail designed by SLA. 

WAF Program Director, Paul Finch, says the building is a flagship project for the future of zero emissions and sustainability.

“It treats infrastructure projects in a way which makes people say ‘Yes in my back yard’ rather than ‘no’,” he says. 

“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.”

The building aligns with Copenhagen’s goals of being the first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Underneath the slope, a number of furnaces, steam, and turbines convert 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy, which powers 150,000 homes year-on-year.

copenhill bjarke ingels group

The WAF’s Future Project of the Year was awarded to Studio V Architecture for their Silo City project. The practice has adaptively reused the largest collection of grain elevators in the world into an arts and cultural campus on the Buffalo River in New York. 

“This project started with the ruins of the world’s greatest collection of grain elevators, and through wonderfully seductive imagery envisages a future for them, the City of Buffalo - and of post-industrial cities,” a Jury statement reads.

SLA Architects were in the winner’s circle once more for their work in completing Al Fay Park, located in Abu Dhabi. Dubbed the Middle East’s first urban biodiversity park, the statement released by the jury says that  “Al Fay Park is a thoughtful and intelligent response which takes into consideration pressing contemporary social and environmental issues. It is more over a delightful and biodiverse oasis in a dense desert city.”

The WAF also has an award category for project proposals that seek to remedy global issues, titled the WAFX Award. Horizon Manila by William Ti, Jr. was named as the winner for 2021, which envisions a 419-hectare masterplan that will nurture the growth and development of the Filipino city. 

In the lead up to the 14th edition of the festival, a number of Australian projects were announced as the winners of their respective categories. Please find the full list below.

Completed Buildings

  • Phoenix Central Park – Durbach Block Jaggers / John Wardle Architects: Winner – Culture 
  • Coopworth – FMD Architects: Winner – House and Villa (Rural/Nature)
  • Holme Apartments – John Wardle Architects: Winner – Housing
  • Fortitude Valley State Secondary College – Cox Architecture & Thomson Adsett: Winner – School
  • Olderfleet – Grimshaw: Winner – Office
  • Ken Rosewall Arena Redevelopment – Cox Architecture: Winner – Sport

Future Projects

  • Atlassian Headquarters – Shop Architects, BVN & Eckersley O’Callaghan: Winner – Office

For the full list of WAF Awards Winners, click here.

Images: Supplied