Water is an element that really gives urban summers a special quality. But it is rare that public places really invite one to play and linger in the opinion of public designer Markus Ehring, who has realised his visions of urban fountains.
Nozzles begin to spray and continuously offer new ideas for play – guiding children through an area that is equally fountain, sculpture and playground. Those who find the steel structures familiar have no doubt played or spent time with children in playgrounds designed by Markus Ehring, as his signature of clear and contemporary shapes and forms, and his interpretation of traditional playground themes such as swings, seesaws, balancing beams and slides have written design history over the last 20 years. His new “spraypoints“ are now intended to revitalise inner cities and bring people of all ages together in public spaces. The realisation of his initial vision took place together with the Canadian fountain manufacturer Vortex Aquatic Structures International, a company that Ehring really appreciates due to the quality and durability of its structures as well as the claim that the fountains use water resources carefully.
Bamboo and brightly coloured petals
The design of the steel pillars with high quality bronze nozzles is based on the aesthetics of bamboo combined with transparent leaves and blossom in bright colours made of extremely break proof and UV resistant polymer plastic. There are components catering for a range of age groups, thus allowing the spraypoints to be made suitable for infants as well as older children. All facilities are completely open and accessible. In order to provide continual surprises while playing, the water jets are controlled by a sequencer, which regulates sequences and provides new ideas. The water running over the bamboo flowers, the dramaturgy of the geysers and the tilting of the flower cups that are filled all help to guide the people playing through the area. With Vortex, Markus Ehring has found a partner that is a global market leader in expertise relating to the technical realisation of such facilities as a result of the construction of more than 4,000 water experience areas.
Re-financing is possible
There must be services and facilities available for children even when budgets are tight. Spraypoints can thus offer the opportunity for the cost of operations and the investment made to be refinanced via the users. The fountains can be fitted with a “coin activator” so that it requires a couple of cents to activate the spraypoint for quite a long time. As a small contribution is paid in turns for common usage of a resource, everybody can take part in the fun and games.
Public design in the 21st century
The initial starting point for the planning was the question regarding which design ideas for urban areas could perform an important function for people from various generations and social groups. In Ehring’s opinion, it is not uncommon for artistic aspirations that are far too high to be part of a misguided approach. People in fact actually open up as a result of shared experiences – thus creating new centres for communication. Water often assumes a key role in town planning. In previous times, drinking fountains and stand posts were important meeting points. In Western countries, water features are no longer provided for consumption but are used for leisure enjoyment. Water invites one to play, laugh and relax – and audiences can also enjoy these sensations. Furthermore, the dancing water jets provide a refreshing atmosphere on hot days and thus provide a higher quality environment in the public spaces.