The Next Big Thing is Estates Gazette’s annual mission to scout out the most imaginative and innovative solutions to real world problems. As the proud official design partners of the competition, we’ve enjoyed being a part of this journey alongside the support of Cluttons, RICS and New London Architecture. Having launched the initial brand identity last year, to running the awareness campaign and having our MD, Jerry Llewellyn, aboard the judges panel, we were delighted to see our front cover design hit the shelves this week.  

As world population figures continue to soar and as urban slums continue to swell, we share the responsibility of finding news ways to meet the needs of the future. With urban slums around the world housing millions of people and fostering bustling internal communities and economies, this year’s competition set out to explore ways to improve living conditions in these mass settlements. 

The winning submission was the well-deserving, Liter of Light, a Philippines-based social enterprise that reimagines solar lighting for the developing world. With it’s pragmatic approach to self-reliance and sustainability, this grass-roots movement pushes the idea that anyone can become a solar engineer. Using simple technology, this kit allows people to build solar powered lights from mini solar panels, widely accessible electronic parts and water bottles and allows communities to distance themselves from expensive imported technologies. So far, this solution has empowered communities in more than 15 countries and has helped to light up 350,000 households. 

As a judge on the panel, here’s what Jerry had to say: 

‘Liter of light was the standout idea because it is so accessible to all across the globe. It helps to solve a simple issue of being able to have light in the most simple dwellings, which in itself then helps to solve issues such as crime, poor sanitation and also aids simple day-to-say tasks such as cooking and enabling children to do their school work. Due to the fact that the primary component is a plastic bottle and that is is a proven highly accessible, low-cost concept as well as being ecologically sustainable, it was an excellent submission. Liter of Light also provides income for local people who install them – properly fitted, they can last up to five years.’