In the Unbelievable Challenge, young architects and designers worldwide got into the holiday spirit by sending their ideas for Santa Claus' new logistics center in Oulu, Finland. With Santa as an imaginary investor, the center not only had to be magical, it had to logically suit its context and enhance the Oulu cityscape.
Co-organized by Ruukki Construction, the City of Oulu, Helsinki Design Week, and Snøhetta, the competition received 243 entries from 59 countries. Out of six finalists, the jury selected one grand-prize winning entry and four runner-ups (€1,000 each), and an honorable mention.
In addition to the cash prize, the grand-prize winners also received the opportunity for a 10-week paid internship with Snøhetta in their Oslo office. (The only drawback for the winning pair is that only one person can do the internship.)
Check out the winning ideas and jury comments below.
FIRST PRIZE: “Nothing is impossible”
by Alexandru Oprita and Laurentiu Constantin (Romania)
Jury notes: "The strongest element in the design is responding to the challenge of ideas. The idea can be used in various situations. The strength of this proposal is being able to exhibit an idea of surprise and magical character within the building itself. The magic happens at night-time on the building’s façade and there’s a link to the investor – Mr Santa Claus. It is feasible and innovative but not futuristic. It is also well thought through - from land use all the way to detailing.
The entry presents an idea of making the most visible façade and the front of the building a magical element that could both integrate the building into its surroundings and highlight whatever aspects of the building or its functions are desired. It is realised by simple, feasible means using both technical solutions in the exterior wall and the forest in front of the building."
"The idea could be realised without sacrificing any of the practical or economic aspects of the logistics centre, and yet it delivers a powerful effect that the jury felt would add value to many buildings and their users. It provides understandable solutions for energy efficiency and attempts to introduce a lot of good thinking about how to utilise this within the building. It also has a good understanding of the local situation. The entry seeks to embrace and enhance the function of the building as a hub for new technology in addition to the logistics centre – it connects well with Oulu as a city."
*Diagrams can be found in the thumbnail gallery below
"At the Speed of Dreams" by Giorgia Musacchio, Italy
"The proposal is highly feasible. It is simple and elegant but still emphasises the idea. It communicates the function of logistics and embraces movement and speed in a very simple but elegant way. The plan has a simple layout with a strong direction, emphasising the idea of movement and Santa’s trail in the sky. It also has a nice exposure towards the highway and the city of Oulu, functioning as a landmark. The building would look good in its location both day and night. It is a good example of showing that one can do a lot with the everyday architectural materials and solutions commonly used in logistics centres. It is also well worked-out as a whole."
"SantaPole" by Evelina Vasiliauskaite, Lithuania
"The strength of this design is its clear architectural concept and the purity of its overall design. The whole experience is nicely built from the visitors’ point of view from the very beginning. It minimises space allocated to parking and loading services and maximises the area for other purposes. The idea is artistic, magical and mysterious, yet poetic. It is usable and problems are well thought-through rather than being avoided. The small archetype building is a focal point within the empty surroundings – and another world opens below. Even energy eciency has become a part of the skilful usage of materials: solar panels are used to create a contrast between the structure of natural materials, wood and stone"
"(ICE)Climbing" by Urszula Chomiak and Pawel Potemkovski, Poland
"This design is an almost realistic way of revitalising the area by adding a fun function connected to it. In this proposal, the added recreational function is realised with very little eort but still offers a fully functional year-round climbing training facility. In addition, the proposal as a whole is consistent, has a clear concept and is technically feasible. Energy eciency is taken into account with a minimal amount of exterior facades and solar panels on the roof. The idea presents a unique solution for logistics centres."
"S.M.L.XL Logistic" by Nuttapol Techopitch and Satavee Kijsanayotin, Thailand
"This idea seeks to solve dierent scales of logistics operations. It is very well thought-through and presents a clear and thorough explanation of the concept. It exhibits a good site plan with varying spaces, resulting in a positive public experience. The building can be entered from all directions and it is democratic towards its surroundings. It oers a solution to stacking volumes and contains a unique character with an artistic approach."
"Santa Claus' Planetary Garden" by El Hadi Jazairy, Chen Lu and Kelly Koh, USA
"This idea had the strongest message of all the projects and it featured a very beautiful presentation. In it, the logistics centre is turned into a garden where you collect seeds and plants from all over the world. Once a year, Santa will travel the world and oer plants to children in the hope of creating awareness about the threat of human development to our ecosystems. This proposal clearly responds to a need beyond the requirements of a building. It raises the big question of whether the distribution of goods should be at the centre of Christmas and it encourages us to think about the “material orientation” of our everyday lives and reminds us what Christmas is actually all about. This could be an opportunity to look into the future and consider how we see consumption and face our environmental and ecological problems. The jury thought that the text and its message was so strong that it deserved to be honoured in this context. The concept is original and beautiful."
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