A well designed fountain should integrate physical
structure, water behavior and sound into a unified and coherent whole. The
fountain should "make sense" with each element having a reason for being a part
of the work.
Sound should be actively considered as a part of fountain
design. Fountain sound should not be perceived as "noise" nor should it fight
the dynamic movement of water in the fountain.
Water movement should be purposeful. If the fountain is
thematic, the water movement should relate to the theme.
As with all good art, a good fountain should evoke an
emotional mood and connection in receptive viewers and should express
A well-designed fountain should remain fresh to the eye and
ear. Ideally, every time one looks at a fountain, one should see and hear
something new, sometimes centering, sometimes provocative, sometimes even
surprising. Metaphorically, viewing a fountain should be like searching for
enlightenment by perceiving the world uniquely at every moment, the viewer
flowing with time while remaining in the present.
Like the Japanese Tea Ceremony, fountain design can be a
subtle dance between making a statement that many can simply enjoy while
stimulating a few to relate to the work on a number of deeper levels.
Water in Architectural
When you look at a fountain, what are you aware of? Are you
aware of the physical design of the fountain, what the water does, how the
fountain sounds, or how the fountain relates to its architectural setting? Or
are you simply aware of the overall statement of the fountain, buildings and
setting as a unified whole?
For many of the fountains in our environment the answer to
these questions is "none of the above" . Many fountains are "just there". Many
splash onto circulation spaces, employ materials that discolor and stain due to
exposure and water impurities, and cry out for maintenance. Many are simply
banal; many more are incongruous and just don't make any sense either in terms
of location, context, or execution.
A vast majority of the fountains we encounter around the
world have themes that have been used for so many hundreds of years that the
absurdity of much of the imagery doesn't even register. What mental imagery is
water flowing from the mouths of lions, cherubs, putti, dolphins, birds, and
the like supposed to evoke? Kitsch themes abound in fountain design and quite
apparently have abundant historical precedents.
It seems that for many of the fountains we see in our
gardens, malls, and commercial spaces the directive must have been "put a
fountain over there and keep the costs down". So many fountains get poorly
built or to save money are purchased inexpensively from building supply stores.
Inadequately designed, improperly filtered and maintained, many end up as
non-functional eye-sores until they either magically transform into planters or
are demolished and carted to the landfill.
So how should fountain design in an architectural /landscape
context ideally be done? It goes without saying that water is becoming a scarce
commodity and environmentally conscious energy use is becoming a practical and
meaningful mantra. Thus as a given, the fountain designer should consider water
utilization, evaporative losses, and energy issues in the design process.
Fountain design is a natural for exploiting green
technology. Given cost constraints, novel power technologies coupled with
feature effects that maximize performance while tending to minimize water use
and power requirements should be considered. As with any well-conceived system,
the fountain or feature should be designed for maintainability. One of the
givens in the real world is that if something is not easy to maintain it
generally won't be maintained.
In designing for specific environments the fountain or
water feature should integrally relate to the overall architectural and
landscape context in which it is to be incorporated and should ideally be a
part of the architectural and landscape design process. At the same time the
water feature or fountain itself must "read" as a unified statement and "stand
alone" on its own merit. This is a sometimes difficult gestalt to realize given
text copyright © 2008 Gary
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