The Danish-based architectural firm BIG won a contest to design a new 47,000 square metre resort and recreational area development at the leading Finnish resort of Levi.


BIG's winning design will see a series of buildings that radiate out from a central square and whose ends touch the ground to create four freestanding buildings that each provide access to the roof and allow the skiers to descend from the resort's rooftop downhill in any direction.


"The soft curves of the undulating roofs of the four buildings create a visual continuity of the natural landscape while lending the whole village the unique character of a skislope skyline that creates an inhabited mountain top," said a BIG statement.


The idea was that the location of the development meant that skiers and boarders faced a pole push or trudge through the snow to reach the slopes, but by ‘raising the height of the summit' with the apartment developments, skiers and boarders will have the momentum to keep on sliding on to the main slopes.


The future Ski Village, work on which is due to begin in 2013, is being developed by Finland-based company Kassiopeia Finland Oy is investing which owns and operates Hotel Levi Panorama, Levi Summit Congress Center and Hotel K5 Levi and above and beyond has interests in developing the exquisite Koutalaki area.


"BIG's visionary approach of combining unique types of accommodation and amenities along with the leisure activities offered at the resort, left the jury in awe. BIG's ambitious plan challenges traditional thinking and we believe that the collaboration between Kassiopeia Finland and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group will rise to the occasion," said the Jury Kassiopeia Finland Oy.


BIG had already hit the ski world headlines with their designs for a giant new power plant near Copenhagen which will incorporate a dry ski slope in its outer shell.


"The Koutalaki Ski Village is conceived as an extension of both the summit and the resort. Grown from the natural topography rather than dropped from the sky - the architecture extends the organic forms of natural landscape creating an inhabitable as well as skiable manmade mountain. As a result, our design for the Koutalaki Ski Village creates a new hybrid integrating distinct identities such as village and resort, shelter and openness, cozy intimacy and natural majesty, unique character and careful continuity - or simply - architecture and landscape." Said Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Partner, BIG.


The four buildings arc around a central square to create a new bustling village plaza at the heart of the resort, which is sheltered from the wind yet open and inviting to the surrounding landscape. The plaza allows ice skating and music events and is connected to a bowl like yard with cafés and bars created by the lower interior heights of the new buildings. The intimate atmosphere of the spaces created here contrasts the open views from the summit.

The whole resort area is connected through a network of paths that prioritizes skiers and pedestrians. Access to the roofs happens through central elevator cores allowing skiing down either towards the courtyard or the piste. An elevator located centrally in the hotel provides access to the roof top restaurant with a 360 degree panorama views of the landscape and plaza.


"When first visiting the future Koutalaki village site you realize the proximity to the ski slopes but at the same time the importance of creating a connection for skiers as well. The gentle slope away from the main ski system seems to offer the solution for a unified proposal that creates maximum connectivity for skiers and pedestrians." Jakob Lange, Partner-in-Charge, BIG.


All accommodation units offered at the new resort enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding nature, including the eight private villas which are situated at different elevations to provide an undisturbed panorama, while the elevated private gardens serve as an extension of the landscape. The villas embrace the snowy landscape and allow the snow in all its forms become a part of the architecture itself.


"Instead of creating design solutions that aim at dealing with snow by shoveling or moving it, we want to create a village that utilizes the full potential of snow. When it is caught on the façade the window frames become a living part of the landscape, adapting to changes in the weather. The light granite façade enhances the intimate relation with the nature. " Hanna Johansson, Project Leader, BIG.


While the four buildings simulate real ski slopes during winter time, combining the essence of a ski resort - skiing, relaxation, recreation and dwelling, the roofscape of the buildings during summer will be just as attractive serving as a green continuum of the surrounding natural landscape for hiking and picnics.