<p></p> <p><br>The bathroom is without a doubt one of mankind's most important technological creations: a dedicated place where sinks, showers and toilets whisk away our unsanitary wastes and allow us to perform cultural hygienic necessities in comfort and privacy.</p> <p>The lavatory, loo, restroom, privy or head – whatever one's preferred term – remains a strong source of design inspiration and innovation as evidenced by the Bathroom Innovation Award 2010 (BIA).</p> <p>This contest, held by Australia's leading bathroom retailer Reece and now in its sixth year, celebrates professional and student concepts of washrooms present and future.</p> <p>Engineers might well furrow their brows at the feasibility of some of these visions. Yet the following winning design entries could nevertheless presage the bathrooms of tomorrow.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p><strong>Shelf Life</strong></p> <p>Bathroom shelves – a ho-hum ledge where various bottles and brushes end up. What if the shelf could take on a life of its own by becoming the source of the water flowing into a sink?</p> <p>This idea – dubbed Shelf Life – won first prize in the professional prize category at BIA. Designer David Goss of Wood Marsh Architecture received $20,000 AUD for his two-in-one basin outlet and shelf concept.</p> <p>The lever for controlling the water flow and temperature can be incorporated into the shelf, obviating the need for a separate faucet and handles.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p><strong>A Lazier Bath</strong></p> <p>"<a alt="((CONLINK|634|Floating%20in%20the%20sea))" href="">Floating in the sea</a> , in a hammock in the trees, the body is soft, warm and sensuous. The body in water is floating, relaxed, suspended, buoyant. Yet the bathtub, in spite of this, is typically a very hard and cold surface, of a very prescriptive geometry," wrote Gyungju Chyon, a lecturer in architecture and design at RMIT University, Melbourne for her BIA entry simply entitled Bathtub.</p> <p>This design envisions a bathtub rather like a hammock that hangs suspended between poles. Its "soft polyurethane shell deforms to the contours of the body," Chyon wrote. Drainage occurs through the bottom where a fixed pipe runs. Presumably this comfort-jeopardizing nadir of the tub would be incorporated in such a way as to not detract from the gently cupped water-feeling the vessel means to convey to its occupant.</p> <p></p>

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<p></p> <p><strong>Sinktastic</strong></p> <p>The Lavinia, by student Dallas Winspear, proposes a new stylish plugging mechanism for sinks. Rather than a crude, depressible stopper in the drain, a colorful, movable beam can slide up and away to create an opening in the smooth bowl. Magnets made of <a alt="((CONLINK|198|rare%20earth%20metals))" href="">rare earth metals</a> determine three opening positions for the tongue-like drain stopper.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Cubed Shower Head</strong>

<p></p> <p></p> <p>Student finalist Andrew Hambly's entry weds minimalist form with maximal functionality. Called Cube (and inspired by a Rubik's Cube), this fixture conceals an internal pivot mechanism, Hambly explained, that allows it to be rotated and switched between Droplet, Flat, Shower and Mist showering options. A quarter turn of the Cube initiates one of these four watery ways of getting clean.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Water and Light </strong>

<p></p> <p></p> <p>The so-called Orbis shower module can treat those washing to a 180-degree spray from overhead, side and underneath water-dispensing units. In addition, six <a href="time-for-change-11-wild-watches-0288/11">light-emitting diodes</a> installed in the module's ceiling can produce "an endless variety of lighting moods and colors," designer Hugh Thomas wrote. The Orbis can operate as a freestanding unit or be mounted against a wall, Thomas also offered.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Sleek Seat</strong>

<p></p> <p></p> <p>Slimback Toilet's water-holding cistern is concealed in the wall behind it, as some toilets do nowadays. But this <a alt="((CONLINK|220|concept%20toilet's))" href="">concept toilet's</a> raised back gives it the appearance of having a super-thin, visible tank. As a bonus, this faux-skinny tank actually serves a as cover to service the internal cistern in the wall, rather than an obvious access panel. Credit Anton Lee See, who works at Infinity Design Development, with the idea.</p> <p></p>

<strong>Shower for Two</strong>

<p></p> <p></p> <p>Sharing a shower with a partner becomes easier and a bit better for the environment with the Share Shower Ware Concept. The showerheads join for when one person showers, yet can separate for when two people occupy the (presumably wider-than-your-average) shower space.</p> <p>A single user receives 1.45 gallons (5.5 liters) per minute of pressured water flow, and when there is company in the shower, each person gets a personal stream of half as much water. In theory, by permitting two showers to occur simultaneously with half as much water, less agua gets consumed overall. But in practice, well . . .</p> <p></p>

<strong>Shower Stall Serpent</strong>

<p></p> <p></p> <p>The Shower Snake twists and turns in any direction desired, and like the muscled animal of its namesake, it possesses the rigidity to hold a curved position, courtesy of interlocking gooseneck tubing. Alex Lee, the Shower Snake's designer, wrote that "it can reach the unreachable places – the water can be directed from any position and orientation around the body. This makes it an ideal style for children, elders, people with a disability and even <a alt="((CONLINK|771|pets))" href="">pets</a> ." Lee, who attends Lidcombe College, won the $10,000 AUD student first prize for this entry.</p> <p>•    <a alt="((CONLINK|220|4%20Out%20of%205%20Like%20Toilet%20That%20Separates%20No.%201%20from%20No.%202%20))" href="">4 Out of 5 Like Toilet That Separates No. 1 from No. 2 </a> <br>•    <a alt="((CONLINK|711|How%20to%20Clean%20a%20Dirty%20Keyboard%20and%20Why%20You%20Should%20))" href="">How to Clean a Dirty Keyboard and Why You Should </a> <br>•   <a alt="((CONLINK|351|%207%20Ordinary%20Things%20Turned%20Hi-Tech%20))" href=""> 7 Ordinary Things Turned Hi-Tech </a> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

Gallery: The Sleek, Tech-Inspired Bathroom of the Future