Christmas is probably the busiest delivery season for online retailer Amazon, but we bet that their operations can't compare to what Santa Claus must deal with over the holidays. To lend a hand to Mr. Claus, Ruukki Construction launched the Unbelievable Challenge, an open architectural design competition to find the best designs for Santa Claus' logistics center in the Perävainio district of Oulu—and the winners were finally revealed. Romanian designers Alexandru Oprita and Laurentiu Constantin swept first place with their entry "Nothing is impossible," and as a reward, one person of the pair will receive a cash prize of €1,000 and a ten-week, fully-paid internship with Snøhetta.
Launched in spring 2014 by Ruukki Construction, the City of Oulu, Helsinki Design Week, and Snøhetta, the Unbelievable Challenge attracted 243 entries from 59 countries. In addition to the grand prizewinner, the jury selected four finalists that received a prize of €1,000, as well as a finalist who received an honorary mention. The entries were evaluated on their big picture approach, inclusion of energy efficient and sustainable design, as well as the proposed center’s suitability to the northern climatic conditions.
Oprita and Constantin’s winning “Nothing is impossible” building design is wrapped in a photovoltaic and mirror facade that blends the structure into the landscape, making the building appear invisible at daytime. At night, however, the building reveals itself and the facade doubles as a giant projection screen for outdoor events to attract tourists. The design also includes sustainable features such as water and snow collector systems, and heat-seeking sensors. The building is positioned as a hub for logistics, cultural events, and new technology.
“The strength of this proposal is being able to exhibit an idea of surprise and magical character within the building itself,” write the jury. “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.”