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Competition: LA+ global island design

An international ideas competition has been launched for imaginative 1km² islands anywhere in the world (Deadline: 2 June)

Open to students and professionals from any discipline, the LA+ Imagination competition seeks proposals for a conceptual island serving any purpose, holding any form and occupying any location on the planet.

The initiative, organised by the University of Pennsylvania School of Design’s biannual LA+ (Landscape Architecture Plus) magazine, aims to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in response to a broad and imaginative brief.

Atafu Atoll

Atafu Atoll

Source: Image by Nasa Johnson Space Centre

Atafu Atoll

LA+ Imagination’s jury chair, Richard Weller, said: ‘Islands hold an especially enigmatic place in our geographical imagination. Differentiated from their contexts and as much myth as reality, islands have their own rules, stories, characters, ecologies, functions, and forms.

’One thing is for sure: islands are good to think with. This competition is an opportunity for designers to push back against the tide of white noise and imagine alternative realities.’

Islands are found on all continents and in all seas and oceans on planet Earth. The largest island is Greenland which measures 2,130,800 km² in total. The word itself is derived from Middle English ‘iland’.

Teams participating in the competition may have up to three members, including students and professionals of all disciplines. Concepts must be no larger than 1km² and submissions must conform to the layout dimensions specified on the competition website.

Island near Fiji

Island near Fiji

Source: Image by Remember

Island near Fiji

Judges include Richard Weller, professor and chair of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania; James Corner, principal of James Corner Field Operations; Marion Weiss, principal of Weiss/Manfredi Architecture; and Matthew Gandy, professor of geography at Cambridge University.

Five winning teams, to be announced on 1 August, will receive $2,000 USD each and a further 10 honourable mentions will be announced. Selected entries will also feature in an exhibition in New York City in spring 2018.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 2 June


$50 USD

Contact details

Tatum L Hands
Editor in chief, LA+ 
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Meyerson Hall, 119
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Tel: +1 215.898.6591

View the competition website for more information

Q+A with Richard Weller

The jury chair of LA+ Imagination discusses his ambitions for the innovative competition

Richard Weller

Richard Weller

Richard Weller

Why are you inviting proposals for conceptual islands anywhere in the world?

Because, on occasion, designers need space and time to think freely, unfettered by the daily grind of compromise and contingency. We wanted to make a space for this.

What sort of themes do you expect the contest brief will provoke?

In the main I expect them to be poetic. Islands often lead us into contemplations of utopia or paradise, but they can also be subversive, tragic, or even humorous. I look forward to seeing where the designers’ imaginations will take them!

How do you plan to evaluate entries with such an open brief?

Joining me on the jury is a design philosopher, a geographer, a landscape architect, an architect, and an urbanist so, like LA+ journal itself, we’ll be bringing a range of disciplinary perspectives to the task of evaluating the entries. The openness of the brief and the likely diversity of entries is one of the reasons we’ll be awarding five equal prizes, rather than the traditional first, second, and third usually given in design competitions.

LA+ Imagination

LA+ Imagination

LA+ Imagination