San Francisco-based architect and California College of the Arts professor Eric Olsen is the winner of the 2008 Metropolis Next Generation Design award and $10,000 prize. The award recognizes outstanding ideas from young architects and designers that improve the built environment by making it better, safer, and more sustainable.

Entrants for the fifth annual competition were tasked with submitting proposals relating to the issue of water. Olsen's project, the Solar Water Disinfecting Tarpaulin, utilizes a method of water disinfection based on passive solar radiation that is approved by the World Health Organization for extreme or emergency situations. The tarpaulin is a sacklike vessel for transporting and purifying water intended for use in disaster areas, developing urban zones, rural regions, or any place with limited or no access to clean water.

Olsen's tarpaulin is made from pleated low-density polyethylene and rubberized nylon, making it lightweight, durable, and comfortable to wear across the shoulders for carrying water. Its design allows a greater volume of water to be carried compared to traditional water vessels. The tarpaulin can be spread on the ground or on a rooftop to absorb ultraviolet radiation for several hours, which will destroy many types of bacteria.

Olsen received the Next Generation Design Prize May 1 at San Francisco's BATH + BEYOND showroom during an event sponsored by Duravit, Geberit, Herman Miller, Maharam, and Sherwin-Williams. Competition jury members were Lance Hosey, AIA, LEED AP, director at William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Va.; Eric Chan, president of ECCO Design, New York City; Fiona Cousins, LEED AP, principal and mechanical engineer at Arup, New York Ckty; and Pam Light, FIIDA, senior vice president at HOK, Culver City, Calif.