Sunday, March 28, 2010

Water Features- Private Residence

Water Features- Private Residence
Water is used for our daily basic needs drinking, cooking, washing etc. In our civilized society, we also use water for our psychological needs in swimming pool, hot tub, shower, garden, water fountain and man-made ponds, water falls and so-on. Architects and designers work with the home owners closely to understand their requirements before even any water element is designed. They study the site, sun orientation, use their expertise and choose the shape, form, location and materials for the project. They transform the space, sometimes creating magic.

Here, I am showing two residential designs. Both the architects from Australia in two different projects designed and created phenomenal space for the residents using water feature.
Lap Pool by Architect Robert Mills
image source from website -
In the first project, architect Robert Mills designed the lap pool for the home owner. The pool is on the same level of the house and edge of the pool is just very close to windows on the side of the house. The frameless glass windows from ceiling to floor allow pool to be visible from inside of the house and visually connects to outside making the residents feel next to water. Thus the location and layout of the pool in relation to the house along with the type of windows bring outside in. Check out the architect’s website and magazine site for more info.

Water Sculpture by Architect Matt Gibson
Another water feature, I love is designed by Australian Architect Matt Gibson. He used many elements to make use of the narrow side yard.  He placed a small cascading water fall on the side of the house along with an eye catching artwork. The side yard in most residences do nothing for the house and occupy some weeds or plants not much enjoyable from the house. He created this extension to the house, an oasis with soothing sounds of the water fountain. The carefully chosen art installation on the side wall evokes the vast feeling of museum.

image source-

Consciously and carefully chosen location, materials in relation to surrounding, shape and form of water feature can transform the space creating lasting impression.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Water Feature and Water Fountain

Water Features and  Water Fountains in Urban Center
Just couple of weeks ago, I was at Building Department of San Jose City in California for Residential Remodel Permit. After spending couple of frustrating hours in the newly constructed building, I decided to pick up a cup of coffee from Starbucks across the street and hoping that coffee will answer my all questions. I was walking through the plaza of the city hall and came by low profile water feature and could not stop taking my handy camera out to click few photos.

Water has super power and it is the necessity of life. Many cities and towns are built and developed around water body. Water is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science. It creates emotions and has very deep meaning for many people. Architect, landscape architects and artists use water in their design in different ways.

City Hall, San Jose, CA -These two water features sitting side by side and spreads in the plaza in front of the newly built city hall. Water gently rolls over thin slabs of stones chiseled on the edges and layered and stacked in a gentle and smooth wave pattern. It is designed by the artist Anna Valentina Murch and Douglas Hollis. The artists have placed the large boulders in unexpected ways around the water fountains, breaking the continuous geometry. The height of this water feature is very low so the people on the side roads can see it from their cars. Also, the scale of the water feature relates to human scale and helps create visual and auditory connection to people around.

My photo does not even show the other features of this water fountain, which you can see misting and spraying of water from vertical steel pipes. The lighting enhances the plaza and the city hall in the night. 

 Check out the photos on artist's website-

Logan Square Fountain- The Swan Memorial Fountain 
The Swan Memorial water fountain in Logan Circle in Philadelphia is very historical and symbolic in design. Its location is chosen to connect Philadelphia's famous City Hall to the Museum of Art through an axis. It was built in 1924 by Wilson Eyre, Jr. and sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder.  It is also known as the fountain of Three Rivers  and surrounded by three bronze figures, representing Philadelphia's principal waterways - the Schuylkill as a mature woman, the Wissahickon Creek as a girl and the Delaware River is as a man.

The spectacular Swann Memorial Fountain is Logan Circle's great attraction. But the location is in the center isolated by many lanes of vehicles around so people have to work hard to enjoy and experience its beauty.

The traditional fountains are circular in design with one focal point so people gather around and enjoy it as shown in the photo taken in Philadelphia city. The materials used here are traditional sculptural materials such as cast bronze is used. Water plays very dominant role and make fountain visible from distance. It creates loud sound of water spraying from 50’ distance. It has its own identity.

Water feature near San Jose city hall is not a place of destination but it is on the way of pedestrians creating experience. On the other hand Swann Memorial Fountain is designed to be a place of destination.  Both water features are very different in form, design and nature but designed for people in urban center. If designed and placed properly, water features can create a sense of a happy place and can leave memorable experience in your brain.