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The Energy Tower, Håndværkervej 70, Roskilde, Denmark

Issue 81 October / November 2014 : Architectural : Façade

Architect / Lighting Concept: ERICK VAN EGERATT Lighting Architect: GUNVER HANSEN

The Energy Tower facility stands as a landmark on the edge of Roskilde in Denmark, with a glowing façade scheme that expresses the dual waste incineration and energy production processes carried out within.

With an increasing awareness of the need to combat climate change, the worlds of business and politics are more willing than ever to embrace technologies that will help in the fight to reduce global C02 emissions from fossil fuels. Indeed having the right green credentials has become an essential part of many corporate identities. When Danish waste management company KARA/NOVEREN made the decision to replace two of their furnaces with a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy incineration line, they were keen that the new structures should be celebrated with an integrate façade scheme. They envisioned a structure with the ability to communicate and relay messages of sustainable energy to the public.

The Energy Tower, as the new facility is popularly known, stands tall on the skyline of the Danish city of Roskilde. Inside its punctuated façade of irregular geometric planes, the plant is able to produce energy from residual waste that cannot otherwise be recycled. Located only a few hundred meters from one of the major inroads to the Danish Capital of Copenhagen, it is visible to thousands of spectators each day.

The tower was designed by Dutch architect and expert in sustainable design Erick Van Egeraat, who brought in Danish lighting architect Gunver Hansen to identify and implement the most optimal lighting solution. An extensive testing phase began to determine the best choice of fixtures, the requirements for which were very specific. The lighting solution had to be capable of reproducing the lighting concept created by Van Egeraat. This meant all fixtures had to be individually controllable to give the building a dynamic expression, and be able to illuminate the relatively dark projection surface. The lighting had to be bright and powerful enough to be seen from a distance, while still meeting the desire of low power consumption.

Even before the construction process had started, various tests were performed on surfaces similar to those proposed for the Energy Tower. Ultimately, Martin Professional’s Exterior range were chosen for the project due to their size, durability, and colour reproduction capabilities.
Van Egeraat wanted the illumination of the tower to contribute to the structure’s identity by referencing the combustion and energy making process within.

“At night the backlit,  perforated façade transforms the incinerator into a gently glowing beacon - a symbol of the plant’s energy production,” explains Van Egeraat.  “Several times an hour a spark of light will gradually grow into a burning flame that lights up the entire building. When the metaphorical fire ceases, the building falls back into a state of burning embers.”

The tower’s structure consists of a framing grid built around the new chimney. Amber-coloured aluminium plating is mounted onto the grid to form the exterior façade of the tower. Lighting fixtures are mounted on the grid and angled to project onto the inner façade. This light is then visible at night through the laser-cut circular openings of the outer facade. Many factors had to be taken into consideration. The distance between the exterior façade and the interior projection surface varies across the entire structure, so the position of each individual fixture had to be carefully considered to ensure colours would mix correctly and output would be even.

Fixture placement also had to ensure there were no direct views of LED light sources, so a number of the projectors had to be screened off.
In addition to these technical decisions, the physical access between the inner surface and the new exterior façade was limited. The use of lifting machinery was impossible, so the installation had to be carried out by a team of professional climbers from Danclimb who mounted the fixtures via rope access.

“We’ve already received overwhelming public support for this project,” commented Thorkil Jørgensen, CEO of KARA/NOVEREN, after the launch of the new tower scheme. “People respond very well to the idea and the concept, and they really like what it adds to the area in terms of architecture and beautiful lighting. This is extremely valuable to us for branding purposes and to secure a future leading position in waste management. We see it as a great investment on several levels. We’re happy to combine an investment in modern waste management methods with an extraordinarily beautiful structure and landmark for the area.”


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