Jul 25, 2023


by Lillian Parker

How Design Competitions Fuel Innovation

Don’t let the L in the box fool you – at Little, we strive to think outside the box to solve today’s design challenges while anticipating future needs. Participating in design competitions is one of many ways we power this collaborative, innovative thinking.

As architects, designers and engineers, we are trained to problem solve and work through challenges. By providing new and exciting problems to solve, design competitions encourage us to step outside of our comfort zones without the restrictions of everyday work.

This creative freedom provides a particularly powerful learning experience for younger team members. From research and brainstorming to visioning and design, young designers can hone their professional skills and explore new ideas without typical project limitations. They also have the chance to collaborate with leaders and specialties with whom they may not regularly work.

No matter age or experience, we encourage our team members to challenge the status quo and seek ways to advance our designs and processes. Here are a few examples of design competitions that have helped us stretch our thinking in pursuit of breakthrough ideas.

Architecture at Zero Competition | Living Community/Building Challenge

Architecture at Zero is a net-zero energy design competition open to students and professionals worldwide in the pursuit of energy-efficient design. Little’s Wellness and Recreation design solution, Navae Vitae, was the 2019 Honor Award winner in the Professionals category.

The Nave Vitae project design concept is based on one of the key concepts of Kinesiology: the balance between the agonist and the antagonist. Navae Vitae optimizes the collection of renewable resources on site while supporting and enhancing the educational and physical activities taking place within.

Buildner/Bee Breeder’s Children’s Hospice Competition | Home for the Terminally Ill

The competition sought conceptual ideas exploring health design innovation and demonstrated how architecture can offer psychological relief to those who are suffering. Our Honorable Mention design concept, Papillio Domas (Butterfly House), is a space where kids can be themselves, free from a stressful hospital environment.

Prioritizing family time and providing a much-needed escape, the building’s form is inspired by the wings of a butterfly, in part because many cultures believe butterflies represent transformation, hope, and rebirth due to their cycle of metamorphosis. The unique design seamlessly combines a playful atmosphere with a sense of sacredness, creating a bright and celebratory space that acknowledges the gravity of the patient’s condition. Additionally, the facility’s strategic location—just minutes away from a hospital and near an airport—and the incorporation of ample outdoor spaces and animals appeal to parents and patients alike.

eVolo Competition | Skyscraper Challenge

Hosted by eVolo Architecture, this competition called for innovative skyscraper designs for the 21st-century to continue exploring on new ideas and concepts for vertical density. to continue exploring on new ideas and concepts for vertical density. Skyscrapers have been springing up in fast-developing countries without careful consideration of the urban fabric, environmental effects, and quality of life. Our design submission, Singapore Residential & Hotel Towers, takes inspiration from the orchid as a sustainable strategy, drawing sustenance from its surrounding environment.

Varna Regional Library (Varna, Bulgaria) International Competition

The Municipality of Varna and the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria – Varna invited both Bulgarian and foreign architects in an open international architectural competition for a new building of Varna Regional Library. The new library building would become the first library to be built in Bulgaria for the last 30 years.

The competition aimed to house the library’s collection under one roof, as opposed to across six different buildings as it was in the past, while also creating a new and active public space in the city’s center. Critical to the competition, design submissions must display a contemporary attitude toward literature with one major message: “We are a modern, open, and friendly institution. Come to spend your free time with us.”


Lillian Parker

Lillian is the External Communications Manager on Little's Marketing Team. A self-proclaimed problem solver with insatiable curiosity, she strives to build meaningful relationships and foster creative talent. When she's not ogling her rescue pup, you can find Lillian telling stories, cheerleading her friends and binging true crime documentaries.

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