We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Client's Favorite of our “Mega Dunes Eco Lodges - Abu Dhabi” competition – Lily-Love Toppar from the United States!

Lily-Love Toppar from the United States

Atelier Lily-Love [AL-L] is my private interdisciplinary design studio, where I rigorously experiment and explore forms, materials, scale and context [through international competitions] at the intersection of innovative and genuine architecture, biomimicry, green technology, landscape urbanism, culture and Genius Loci (spirit of place). AL-L started in 2013, when I took a year-long leave-of-absence from Cornell University to collect data in Rwanda for my master’s thesis, explore East African states and gain some professional knowledge in architecture and construction. Right before returning to complete my degree, I had the opportunity to independently work on a competition, which allowed me to integrate my background in landscape architecture & urbanism with green architecture in quest of creating thought-provoking narratives, instilling sustainable practices, and re-inventing intriguing forms and spaces. The competition was an Arts and Culture Center in China, in which I won an Honorable Mention amongst 10 selected merit works. Since then, I’ve had the privilege to choose and passionately participate in both design and essay competitions around the world.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/individuals have been involved?

Professionally, I have worked in both architecture and landscape architecture firms where I participated, collaborated and interfaced with clients, government officials, stakeholders, and standards. I am fortunate to have a multidisciplinary grounding in mixed-use, adaptive reuse and successfully connecting community members to develop integrated and well-balanced projects that involve multijurisdictional rehabilitation of commercial and hospitality projects, green technology, planning, transportation, land development, and urban design projects in the United States, Canada, and countries on the African continent.

With Atelier Lily-Love [AL-L], I have successfully engaged in design competitions of varying scale, theme and typology - from a museum to a religious building, from an eco-lodge & hotel pods to an education center, from community development to an urban intervention.

Design competitions include, but are not limited to:

- The Mega Dunes Eco-Lodge Competition in Abu Dhabi (2020) named “Desert Crown”, which was shortlisted and won the award "Client’s Favorite".

- A Religious Building in Rwanda (2019),

- An Early Child Education Center in Mozambique (2019),

- A Military Museum named “Beautiful Ruins” in Italy (2018),

- An Arts and Culture Center in China (2013) 

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of the architect in your society?

To me, good architecture as both pedagogy and practice, strives to address and sustainably solve complex design challenges by emulating systems in nature, evoking Genius Loci, integrating multidisciplinary fields, engaging both clients & inhabitants, and contributing to our progress & collective wellbeing. As such, a good architect should offer an empathetic, holistic design strategy of how architecture works and ultimately where we fit in.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

It’s freeing! You don’t get that limiting diction of “it has to be done this one way”. It’s out-of-the-box thinking and in line with the AL-L vision of exploration, innovation, and discovery, resulting in pleasant surprises that solve complex human and design challenges. While learning, I enjoy dreaming and envisioning beautiful things, and gaining positive exposure for thought-provoking and creative work. Regardless of the results, I always look forward to the next beautiful dream that we can actually build and inhabit.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

I have two pieces of advice:

- It’s okay to abandon an idea or dream that’s not lucid enough. If it’s not working, it’s not working! Don’t force it. Don’t limit yourself to that one idea. Let it go. Try something different.

- Dreaming is beautiful, don’t resist it. Stretch your mind ... and see how far you can go.

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