Last year, the Swedish city of Uppsala invited Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to design a new power plant that will use biomass cogeneration to generate both electricity and steam during winter. However, the city only needed the plant to operate in winter to supplement the region’s existing energy infrastructure, which allowed BIG to transform the public perception of a power plant both visually and functionally.
The proposal fuses two industrial archetypes into an unconventional hybrid: the plant and the greenhouse. Through harnessing the economies of scale associated with greenhouse structures it was possible to create an enclosure that lent a light and transparent quality. The geodesic façade comprises coloured PV panels and glass, with the colour coded to reflect the amount of sun exposure on each facet, ranging from red to blue, hot to cold.
The crystalline volume also serves as a colourful invitation for exploration and education. The greenhouse-like covering allows citizens to enjoy an educational glimpse of what happens within, with a public walkway around the ridge of the dome offering views of Uppsala's skyline. The ground space inside the dome will also be open to educational visits, and when the plant is offline during summer months the surrounding park area will be used as a public space for the social and cultural life of the city.