The cathedral by the highway

By Jakob Fälling

Energitårnet - Roskilde
 

Energitårnet (The Energy Tower) was criticized by local residents, but it has found its place in the skyline of today’s Roskilde – thanks in large part to the tower’s appearance at night.

A giant landmark towers alongside the highway on the ridge above Roskilde, dominating the landscape. Dutch architect Erich van Egeraat’s Energy Tower is a rust-colored wall full of holes, which wraps around a state-of-the-art combined heat and power plant. This spectacular complex and its 98-meter-high tower engage in direct dialogue with Roskilde Cathedral two kilometers away. 

When the project was presented under the name “The Cathedral”, many local residents found the proposed edifice overly dominating in the medieval town’s skyline.

Once built, however, the Energy Tower won over many of the skeptics. As you approach the building, its peculiar geometry and heavy body become evident, resembling an aquatic creature from legendary tall tales. 

But the Energy Tower is particularly charming when viewed in the cover of night. The colored light shining through the holes in the building’s facade bring the architecture to life. The light shifts in calm rhythms, forming colored patterns that are impossible to predict. The building thus exudes a unique poetry that has very little to do with the historic city center. It is the beating heart of a modern city, whose warmth and electricity is distributed throughout the urban grid. 

Since its construction, the Energy Tower has earned a slew of international architecture awards.

Facts

  • The two furnaces in the Energy Tower generate electricity for nearly 44,000 households and district heating for approximately 61,000 households.
  • The facade consists of 6,500 dark brown anodized aluminum sheets, all of which were individually dipped in an acid bath and hung to dry. As a result, each sheet has its own unique appearance.
  • The facade sheets are interspersed with 4,500 holes of varying sizes.
  • The Energy Tower has a 190-meter-long building shell and a 98-meter-tall tower.

Surroundings

The Energy Tower can be seen from much of Roskilde, but if you are in the vicinity, a jaunt to Trekroner on the other side of the railroad tracks is well worth the visit. 

The neighborhood also features works by Henning Larsen (the Roskilde University Library being of special note) and a city plan that exquisitely unites suburb, nature and art. 

Other notable attractions here include Trekroner School (Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects) and Trekroner Church, designed by Rørbæk and Møller.

And, lastly, Østre Kirkegård Crematory and Chapel from 1961 is a classic cubist Henning Larsen work, featuring great harmony between the building, its function and its surrounding.

Area

Roskilde-en

Country and City

Roskilde

Architect

Erick van Egeraat

Engineer

Rambøll
Bascon

Built

2013