We’ve been anxiously awaiting the results of Metropolis Magazine’s Next Generation 2006 Competition, and we are excited to say that this year’s winning project raises the bar for ecological sustainability and future-forward innovation.

Virginia San Fratello’s winning project, the Hydro Wall is a concrete and thermoplastic wall system that combines a rainwater catchment, storage, filtering and recycling to supply a building with an efficient and renewal water supply.

San Fratello imagines fire stations utilizing the recycled water from the Hydro Wall to fill trucks, while schools and municipal buildings could use collected water for heating and cooling, watering the landscape and as a gray water supply for the building. What a fabulous idea!

San Fratello will receive a $10,000 seed from sponsors Herman Miller and Maharam to create a prototype of the Hydro Wall. The concept clearly has potential to be beneficial in a number of geographic areas and to a great many populations whose water supplies are unstable or severely limited.

The fact that Metropolis selected this kind of design represents a real affirmation of the direction in which young designers and architects are moving. Hydro Wall is a humanitarian effort, and a future-forward idea that acknowledges the possibility of drastic changes in climate and community needs.

The Next Generation competition was founded in 2003 with a mission to “recognize and encourage activism, social involvement, and entrepreneurship among designers.” Last year’s prize was split between Alisa Andrasek’s rather astounding “algorithmic library,” Genware; and Joseph Hagerman’s Biopaver; both of which took a giant leap where so many others are taking tiny (though meaningful!) steps.

We look forward to seeing this prototype made, but most of the thrill for us comes from seeing these design trends honored. This is the stuff we live for: beautiful, creative, constructive solutions for a more sustainable world. These are the kind of people we want designing our future.

+ Metropolis Magazine

+ Next Generation Design Competition (Be sure to check out the runners-up, too.)

Virginia San Fratello is a co-principal and founder of rael + san fratello studio, and practices architecture in Clemson, SC where she is an assistant professor of architecture at Clemson University. She received her architecture degree from Columbia University’s Masters of Architecture Program in New York City.

Virginia San Fratello’s proposal will be featured at the METROPOLIS booth during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, May 20-23, 2006, in New York.