2008 Next Generation Runners-up: Water Works

We don’t need to invoke Coleridge’s crusty old Mariner to get the point across: water is on our minds a lot these days. Either there is not enough of it, or there is too much in the wrong place. And the news keeps getting grimmer, from the melting polar ice caps to Atlanta’s recent brush with catastro­phe when its drinking water supply began to dry up. Here in New York, the American Mus­eum of Natural History mounted the exhibi­tion Water: H20=Life, which offered a litany of sobering statistics on the use and misuse of our most precious natural resource. One in particular sticks out: some 900 million people live on less water per day—for drinking, cooking, and hygiene—than what’s contained in a single flush of a low-flush toilet.

Fortunately, a host of young designers is thinking about how to solve the world’s water woes. For this year’s Next Generation Design Competition, Metropolis asked for projects focusing on water, and we received 137 submissions from 19 countries. The ten finalists, shown on these pages, are striking not just for their wildly inventive approaches but also for their shared concern for the populations most at risk. We’re not fooling ourselves: as innovative as these designs are, they’re probably no more than the proverbial drop in the bucket when it comes to addressing the water challenges facing us in the coming years. But, hey, every drop counts.

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