A Bay Area architect and professor at the California College of Arts has been chosen as this year's winner of the prestigious Metropolis Next Generation Design Prize. The winner, Eric Olsen, was honored by the architecture and design community at a gala awards celebration at the Bath+Beyond showroom in San Francisco.
Olsen's design is a Solar Water Disinfecting Tarpaulin, a flexible, adaptable vessel that can be easily filled with water and carried home, where it works to make the water potable. The pleated tarpaulin-constructed from laser-cut clear low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and dark rubberized nylon-is designed to hold up to 20 liters of water and can be rolled into a bundle or worn as a shawl-like kanga for carrying. It can be laid across a rooftop, spread on the ground or hung vertically to allow ultraviolet radiation from the sun to disinfect the water inside. This World Health Organization-approved purification method takes only five hours in hot climates. The tarpaulin is designed for use in a wide variety of settings, from urban disaster sites to remote third-world villages. Ten additional Next Generation proposals were also honored as runners-up at the awards event.
"This year's winner and the very noteworthy runners-up once again confirm our belief in young designers' ability to address complex social, cultural and environmental issues with enthusiasm and a high level of creativity," said Metropolis publisher Horace Havemeyer III. "I'm also proud of them for submitting clear-headed business plans," adds Havemeyer, noting that the "competition is unique among design competitions in that it asks for entrants to submit a business plan."
"It is clear to us that the next generation of designers cares deeply about our natural resources," says Metropolis editor in chief Susan S. Szenasy. "Their inventive proposals were focused on water, an endangered resource worldwide, and serve to create a dialogue around a crucial topic. Designers, they're saying, have useful answers to offer a thirsty world."