A fountain (from the Latin "fons" or "fontis", a source or spring) is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect.
Fountains were originally purely functional, connected to springs or aqueducts and used to provide drinking water and water for bathing, but in ancient Rome they began to be used as decorative elements in gardens and courtyards. The art of fountains reached its peak in the fountains of the palaces of Moorish Spain in the 14th century; in the Italian Renaissance garden in the 15th and 16th century; in the fountains of the Gardens of Versailles in the seventeenth century; and the decorative fountains of Rome in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
Fountains today may be practical, such as drinking fountains and village fountains which provide clean drinking water; or designed for recreation, such as splash fountains, where residents can cool off in summer; or ornamental, decorating city parks and squares and home gardens.
Fountains may be wall fountains or free-standing. In fountains sheets of water may flow over varied surfaces of stone, concrete or metal. Basins may overflow from one into another, or the overflow may imitate a natural cascade. Many fountains are located in small, artificial, ornamental ponds, basins and formal garden pools, and often they include sculpture.
Until the 20th century fountains depended upon gravity to make water spout or spray in the air, but modern fountains can use mechancial pumps. A famous example is the Jet d'Eau in Lake Geneva, which shoots water 140 meters in the air. The highest such fountain in the world is King Fahd's Fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which rises 260 meters (853 feet) above the Red Sea.. The musical fountain combines moving jets of water, colored lights and recorded music, controlled by a computer, for dramatic effects.
20th century fountainsEdit
During the 20th century, fountains were freed entirely of the need to be sources of drinking water. The 20th century saw the introduction of new fountain materials (glass, concrete, plastic and steel) and especially new fountain technologies (electric lighting, amplified music, electric water pumps, and jets of water controlled by computer programs.) While most fountains were still pieces of sculpture with water added, an increasing number of fountains were designed by landscape architects, and were inspired by natural settings such as waterfalls and cascades. Other fountains had no architecture at all, but sprang up directly from water jets under the surface of canals or lakes, or directly from a grid of nozzles in a plaza. Spectators were invited to walk into the fountain and see it from the inside, to become part of the performance.
A splash fountain or bathing fountain is intended for people to come in and cool off on hot summer days. These fountains are designed to allow easy access, and feature nonslip surfaces, and have no standing water, to eliminate possible drowning hazards, so that no lifeguards or supervision is required. These splash pads are often located in public pools, public parks, or public playgrounds (known as "spraygrounds"). In some splash fountains, such as Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, the water is heated by solar energy captured by the special dark colored granite slabs. The fountain at Dunas Square features 600 ground nozzles arranged in groups of 30 (3 rows of 10 nozzles). Each group of 30 nozzles is located beneath a stainless steel grille. Twenty such grilles are arranged in two rows of 10, in the middle of the main walkway through Dundas Square.
A water fountain or drinking fountain is designed to provide drinking water and has a basin arrangement with either continuously running water or a tap. The drinker bends down to the stream of water and swallows water directly from the stream. Modern indoor drinking fountains may incorporate filters to remove impurities from the water and chillers to reduce its temperature. In some regional dialects, water fountains are called bubblers. Water fountains are usually found in public places, like schools, rest areas, libraries, and grocery stores. Many jurisdictions require water fountains to be wheelchair accessible (by sticking out horizontally from the wall), and to include an additional unit of a lower height for children and short adults. The design that this replaced often had one spout atop a refrigeration unit.
In 1859, The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association was established to promote the provision of drinking water for people and animals in the United Kingdom and overseas. More recently, in 2010, the FindaFountain campaign was launched in the UK to encourage people to use drinking fountains instead of environmentally damaging bottled water. A map showing the location of UK drinking water fountains is published on the FindaFountain website.
The technology of fountainsEdit
From Roman times until the 20th century, fountains operated by gravity, requiring a source of water higher than the fountain itself to make the water flow. The greater the difference between the elevation of the source of water and the fountain, the higher the water would go upwards from the fountain.
In Roman cities, water for fountains came from lakes and rivers and springs in the hills, brought into city in acqueducts and then distributed to fountains through a system of lead pipes.
From the Middle Ages onwards, fountains in villages or towns were connected to springs, or to channels which brought water from lakes or rivers. In Provence, a typical village fountain consisted of a pipe or underground duct from a spring at a higher elevation than the fountain. The water from the spring down to the fountain, then up a tube into a bulb-shaped stone vessel, like a large vase with a cover on top. The inside of the vase, called the bassin de répartition, was filled with water up to a level just above the mouths of the canons, or spouts, which slanted downwards. The water poured down through the canons, creating a siphon, so that the fountain ran continually.
In cities and towns, residents filled vessels or jars of water from the canons of the fountain or paid a water porter to bring the water to their home. Horses and domestic animals could drink the water in the basin below the fountain. The water not used often flowed into a separate series of basins, a lavoir, used for washing and rinsing clothes. After being used for washing, the same water then ran through a channel to the town's kitchen garden. In Provence, since clothes were washed with ashes, the water that flowed into the garden contained potassium, and was valuable as fertilizer.
The most famous fountains of the Renaissance, at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, were located on a steep slope near a river; the builders ran a channel from the river to a large fountain at top of the garden, which then fed other fountains and basins on the levels below. The fountains of Rome, built from the Renaissance through the 18th century, took their water from rebuilt Roman acqueducts which brought water from lakes and rivers at a higher elevation than the fountains. Those fountains with a high source of water, such as the Triton Fountain, could shoot water 16 feet in air. Fountains with a lower source, such as the Trevi Fountain, could only have water pour downwards. The architect of the Trevi Fountain placed it below street level to make the flow of water seem more dramatic.
The fountains of Versailles depended upon water from reservoirs just above the fountains. As King Louis XIV built more fountains, he was forced to construct an enormous complex of pumps, called the Machine de Marly, with fourteen water wheels and 220 pumps, to raise water 162 meters above the Seine River to the reservoirs to keep his fountains flowing. Even with the Machine de Marly, the fountains used so much water that they could not be all turned on at the same time. Fontainiers watched the progress of the King when he toured the gardens and turned on each fountain just before he arrived.
The architects of the fountains at Versailles designed specially-shaped nozzles, or tuyaux, to form the water into it into different shapes, such as fans, bouquests, and umbrellas.
Beginning in the 19th century, fountains ceased to be used for drinking water and became purely ornamental. By the beginning of the 20th century, cities began using steam pumps and later electric pumps to send water to the city fountains. Later in the 20th century, urban fountains began to recycle their water through a closed recirculating system. An electric pump, often placed under the water, pushes the water through the pipes. The water must be regularly topped up to offset water lost to evaporation, and allowance must be made to handle overflow after heavy rain.
In modern fountains a water filter, typically a media filter, removes particles from the water—this filter requires its own pump to force water through it and plumbing to remove the water from the pool to the filter and then back to the pool. The water may need chlorination or anti-algal treatment, or may use biological methods to filter and clean water.
The pumps, filter, electrical switch box and plumbing controls are often housed in a "plant room". Low-voltage lighting, typically 12 volt direct current, is used to minimise electrical hazards. Lighting is often submerged and must be suitably designed. Floating fountains are also popular for ponds and lakes they consist of a float pump nozzle and water chamber.
Water quality and legal liability issues concerning fountainsEdit
There is a need for good water quality in contemporary fountains, regardless of their avowed intended use. Regardless of the fact that some fountains are designed and built not as bathing fountains, but are rather used simply as architectural decor, people will often drink from, bathe or wash their hands in any fountain. Additionally, fountain spray can contain legionella bacteria and has been linked to legionnaires' disease outbreaks. Therefore, minimum water quality standards are necessary, regardless of intended use. Guidelines have been developed for control of legionella in ornamental fountains.
In theory, a free-standing water feature should not have a bather load, and consequently, many builders would not choose to install filters or sanitation devices. In reality, however, people will interact with ornamental water fountains in the most surprising ways. In Disneyland, for example, people have been reported to change their babies' diapers and then wash their hands in the water fountain (thus adding unexpected bacteria and organics into the water). (Pool and Spa News Online)
In July 1997, an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis was connected to an ornamental fountain at the Minnesota Zoo, which did not have proper filtration and water treatment. Children played in fountains and swallowed water, and spurted the water out of their mouths to mimic the way nozzles in the fountain spurted the water. It was therefore necessary to put a fence around the fountain to keep people away.
In the United States fountain operators and owners are legally liable for failure to either fence-in fountains, or to properly filter, chlorinate or otherwise treat the water, if the fountains are not fenced in. If the water is unsafe, fences must be designed to keep people far enough away, so that they cannot touch the water, otherwise children get water on their hands, and put their fingers into their mouths, and end up getting sick, thus subjecting owners and operators to legal liability.
- Helen Attlee, Italian Gardens - A Cultural History. Frances Lincoln Limited, London, 2006.
- Paris et ses Fontaines, del la Renaissance a nos jours, edited by beatrice de Andia, Dominique Massounie, Pauline Prevost-Marcilhacy and Daniel Rabreau, from the Collection Paris et son Patrimoine, Paris, 1995.
- Les Aqueducs de la ville de Rome, translation and commentary by Pierre Grimal, Société d'édition Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1944.
- Louis Plantier, Fontaines de Provence et de Côte deAzur, Édisud, Aix-en-Provence, 2007
- Frédérick Cope and Tazartes Maurizia, Les fontaines de Rome, Editions Citadelles et Mazenod, 2004
- André Jean Tardy, Fontaines Toulonnaises, Les Editions de la Nerthe, 2001. ISBN 2-913483-24-0
- Hortense Lyon, La Fontaine Stravinsky, Collection Baccalaureat arts plastiques 2004, CEntre national de documentation pedagogique
- Marilyn Symmes (editor), Fountains-Splash and Spectacle- Water and Design from the Renaissance to the Present. Thames and Hudson, in cooperation with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. (1998).
- ↑ Philippe Prévot, Histoire des jardins, Editions Sud Ouest, Bordeaux, 2006.
- ↑ SAMIRAD (Saudi Arabia Market Information Resource Directory
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ Marilyn Symmes, "Fountains as Propaganda," in "Fountains, Splash and Spectacle," pp. 82-83
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fountains that may be added|
-  The Bit.Fall by Julius Popp (2005)
- Fountains of Peterhof
- Kansas City, "City of Fountains"
- Fountain Information for Professionals
- Oregon Museum of Science and History WaterWorks page
- Ontario Science Centre's main fountain (hydraulophone)
- Public fountains in Adelaide, Australia
- European Drinking Water Fountain History resource
- 15 Famous, Fabulous Fountains - slideshow by LIFE magazine
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