Renowned Architects Reimagine The Humble Water Fountain [Pics]

Renowned Architects Reimagine The Humble Water Fountain [Pics]

These stunning structures use Turkish design principles for a greener streetscape.

Rachel Pincus
  • 24 february 2014

Whether you refer to it as a drinking fountain, water fountain, or bubbler, this essential bit of street furniture, once neglected, is receiving renewed attention as the call for proper hydration persists in the sweaty summer months and a push to reduce bottled water consumption is underway in many communities. Most recently, the city of London held a kiosk design contest, enlisting six world-renowned British architecture firms to design water fountains with fresh aesthetic and community-building aspirations. One of the stated goals of the project, which was organized by the Architects’ Journal and Turkishceramics, was to envision ways to reduce the UK’s annual consumption of 13 million water bottles. However, these six designs promise to accomplish much more, for one thing incorporating a design imported from distant Turkey.

“The definition of the kiosk, originating in Turkey as a garden pavilion, has transformed over time,” the Building Centre, the host of the exhibit, explained. “A change took place in the late 17th century when charitable fountain kiosks in Turkey, paid for by the Sultan or other members of the royal family were created to distribute water to citizens. These were freestanding buildings, beautifully fashioned in marble and often with exquisite tilework.” Representatives from each of the six participant firms visited Istanbul to study the fountains’ contemporary use.


Classicist firm ADAM Architecture‘s proposal most closely mimics the style of these traditional structures. Architects’ Journal suggested that it resembles a cenotaph, or commemorative empty tomb, the structure from which emerges the staff of life.


The unique shape of Zaha Hadid Architects‘ fountain is designed to both provide shade to pedestrians and reflect on the importance of water.”Traditional Ottoman fountain kiosks became meeting points, gathering places for a community to connect,” project architect Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu told Dezeen. “With large protective cantilevers, the fountains often include ceramic tiling and our proposal translates these characteristics to contemporary use within a design informed by the continuous loop of the water cycle.”


Hopkins Architects‘ design focuses on the idea of refuge. Its cantilevered canopy, made out of precast concrete, evokes the decorative fountains found in many European and American cities as well.


Parry Architects‘ design ups the ante in complexity while giving local businesspeople a boost by having room to host amenities like ice cream stands or news vendors. The multifaceted structure also seems to have a shady seating area.


Studio Weave‘s design integrates well with London’s winding, sometimes confusing streets by becoming a possible marker for wayfinding. These playful and colorful “watering poles” can also accommodate plants.


Finally, the design by AHMM (Allford Hall Monaghan Morris), who designed Google’s UK headquarters, focuses on function over form and is based on a vision of making people more aware of the ‘subterranean infrastructure beneath the roads.’ It would source water from the mains deep beneath the ground.

The deployment of these potential structures is in a relatively narrow area, mainly in Exhibition Road, Soho and the South Bank, but the wide variety of people who traipse through these neighborhoods, especially tourists, should serve as a helpful focus group. All six proposals will be exhibited at the Building Centre until March 14th.

Architects Journal // Turkishceramics

Sources: Inhabitat, Dezeen


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