Sustainable Cities™

Copenhagen: From gasometer to knowledge centre

The disused gasometer in the Copenhagen suburb of Valby is to be transformed into a knowledge centre for sustainable technological solutions for the society of the future. This is the vision of JJW Architects, who want the gasometer to become a sustainable vertical community with public spaces, hanging gardens and flexible plateaux. No decision has yet been made as to whether the gasometer will be demolished or transformed, although the first steps have been taken to open the gasometer’s facade and make it more accessible.

Gassiloens indre, 15 april 2009, venligst udlånt af JJW arkitekter

On the edge of Valby Park in Copenhagen V stands one of the city's landmarks - a 108 metre-high cylindrical gasometer in traditional gas-blue. The structure once held 200,000 m³ of gas in one massive compartment. Natural light enters the gasometer at the top through biunique skylights, revealing the interior surface of the structure, which is rather like black mother-of-pearl. For 40 years, oil was pumped down the gasometer's massive piston, leaving behind deposits which reflect the daylight. Architect Ole Hornbek of JJW Architects want to reuse and transform this industrial building. His vision is to transform the derelict former supplier of energy into a knowledge centre, where ideas and solutions can be nurtured to meet the greatest challenges of our time, - building a sustainable society.

The architects' vision is to create a vibrant vertical urban environment with a flexible interior that allows the place to change over time, just like any other part of a city. The old gasometer will function as an independent community, comprising homes, commercial operations, shops, public institutions, public meeting places and hanging gardens. The tower will be used every day by ordinary citizens, consumers, classes of schoolchildren, clubs and societies. The functions of the spaces will not determined beforehand, which means that new functions can come into play as the need arises.

Valbu Gasometer, illustration, courtisy of JJW arkitekter
The community will be a sort of development laboratory for future sustainable technologies and social solutions, and a place where pilot projects can be tried and tested. The Valby gasometer will be a base for Danish and international companies and research institutes which will be able to collaborate and share their knowledge. The gasometer will be a forerunner in the in the discussion about the future of the world. JJW Architects will implement and cultivate the latest sustainable technical and social solutions and integrate them into their rethink of the gasometer.

The architects envisage a transluminated tower with mossy panels on the north side and reflective solar cells facing south, east and west. The facade will be open to allowing the daylight and minimise the use of artificial light. At the same time, the facade will reveal what is going on inside the building. Hanging gardens and trees will provide shade in the summer, and a flexible climate screen will facilitate testing of new technologies and materials. The rejuvenated gasometer will have three different temperate zones which will help minimise energy consumption and ensure natural ventilation. The building will be carbon neutral and energy consumption will be optimised by using alternative energy sources, and the gasometer will also supply energy to the local area - solar power and geothermal heat, for example.

"Valby gasometer tells the tale of change from introverted industrialism to the new, extrovert era. It is actually that banal, involving a transformation from introversion and danger, where everything can explode, to the new era's candour, networking, willingness to make mutual concessions and a belief in life."(Ole Hornbek, JJW Arkitekter)

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014