How to turn a waste incinerator into a world-class tourist attraction

A power plant sounds like a strange place to put the world’s tallest climbing wall.

But Walltopia have done it and made CopenHill, a waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen, a world-class tourist attraction.

The climbing wall stands at 85 metres tall and has five different routes with ranging difficulty.

On top of that CopenHill also has a ski slope, hiking trail, cafe and kids’ play area.

Having the world’s tallest climbing wall is a record-breaking feature of CopenHill but it’s not the only one.

CopenHill power plant is the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world. The plant can power an estimated 50,000 homes per year.

The power plant is a key tenant of Copenhagen’s goal of being the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. 

CopenHill visitors can also ski and toboggan across a 2.7 hectare slope with a 30 per cent decline.

Ski on the waste plant’s ski slope © CopenHill, Image by Max Mestour and Amelie Louys

If you would rather move up than down, there’s the climbing wall or a 500-metre hiking trail.

“As a power plant, CopenHill is so clean that we have been able to turn its building mass into the bedrock of the social life of the city,” said Bjarke Ingels, the architect and designer who led the CopenHill project.

Ingels explains that CopenHill is a prime example of “hedonistic sustainability,” a concept of guilt-free living that improves quality of life and human enjoyment.

The world’s tallest climbing wall

As for the world’s tallest climbing wall, since it is 80 metres it is pretty difficult to climb at once. Designers decided to split it into four pitches, roughly 20 metres each.

world's tallest climbing wall
Like a challenge? Take on the world’s tallest climbing wall © Walltopia, Image by Michael Hjorth

“The CopenHill wall design was a challenge as we were striving to find the right balance between appearance and functionality,” Vasil Sharlanov, Head of Design says.

Architects had to follow the unique pattern of the existing building with bricks and openings. They also introduced specific climbing features such as roofs, arrests and cracks.

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