Project Proposal – Melbourne’s watering hole

Project Synopsis

Saying no to plastic drinking bottles would stop the wastefulness of resources, not only plastics, but also the large transportation system of bottled water, and the privatisation of water to some degree. The alternative to bottled water is public drinking fountains which are accessible to all. Though there is much stigma attached to these and so far has mostly been undesirable to the public within Melbourne. The solution is to find out why so few are being utilised by the public and how to get more people to use them within the city of Melbourne.

Project Aim & Objectives

The overall objective behind the development of drinking fountains to be used within Melbourne is so people can say “No to Plastic Drink Bottles” this alternative system provides free water to all people of Melbourne within convenient locations.

My intention of this project is to create a rigours product that showcases all aspects of a product and the system it sits within. This means a well researched, documented and developed concept, prototype, infrastructures involved, social and environmental considerations are all taken into account.

Objectives of the project include:

  1. To undertake research in the forms of questioners, observations, photo documentation, articles, books, internet sites, blogs and interviews as to put people think of the current system and design of drinking fountains, the issues involved with public products eg: vandalism, in use when one also want to use it. Can indoor drinking Fountains be used within offices?
  2. Document, question analyse findings of research and see if other organisations, offices or councils wish to be part of the project.
  3. To design a drinking fountain that is coherent with our city of Melbourne’s culture and the future direction in which Melbourne is heading. Is there to be a serious of drinking fountains due to locations?
  4. Asses the locations for its use and figure out areas where it would be in most demand.
  5. Upon completion of final concepts create CAD model/s of the final design and produce technical drawings.
  6. Look into the manufacturing what is involved, what materials and costs.
  7. Create a prototype of the drinking fountain, weather handmade or using rapid prototypes.
  8. Take to potential uses and gain feed back. See if it is addressing all the problems identified.
  9. Create a business/proposal of how to implement these drinking fountains around Melbourne. Brand the Drinking fountain project so it has a strong identity within Melbourne.
  10. Create a thesis book.

Project Rationale

I have always been passionate about sustainability but find that it becomes complex and hard for people to adapt and change their lives to and some amount of willingness is involved. As time poor people choose the fastest and most convenient ways to live it seems all targets and goals of reducing carbon emissions is impossible. I am starting with a simple product and system that reduces transportation, manufacturing, plastics all by eliminating the use of Plastic water bottles and users choosing the free alternative drinking from a public Drinking fountain located conveniently inside their local park outside their office building, along the streets near their house.

As designers we should firstly assess the needs for new products and if the ones out there are sufficient enough. I believe this is the case with this project as currently all drinking fountains through out the city look different and some have ended up looking like glorified taps with no connection or relevance to the city and the people within it.

Water has become such a controversial topic within Melbourne as every one knows we haven’t got enough left in the dams to sustain ourselves and that the rain to fill up the dams isn’t going to come. Water has always come so easily to us we have never had to work for it, we have taps located conveniently all around inside and outside our house and we wish to continue this walking down the street on our way to work carrying it around in single use bottles and endlessly buying new ones. If people could feel more connected to water as a precious resources that isn’t always as plentiful as one thought this, it may trigger them to become aware of their own water patterns.

Hopefully the new design of the drinking fountain will make people engage with their city more, they can be on the lookout for them so they know where the closest one is when the get thirsty. They can become part of the community and city and be something which helps to make up the city of Melbourne even if it’s just something simple and not noticeable like the way street signs make up a city. I want tourists to be able to come to Melbourne along with ordinary Melbournians and feel they are continual part of Melbourne’s way of life and routines. As communities regulate everything deciding the values in place it has to be rapidly accepted as the normal thing to do with out questioning it.

I hope to develop a body of work that not only shows I can undertake design problems and tasks from a product/production point of view but also from a deep contextual type of view. As for anything to be improved upon it must be realised it was originally created a specific way for a reason and unless all parameters are explored we will be trapped continually within the same loop. I wish to embed sustainability into all projects I undertake so they no longer become a feature but something which is integral to the design.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths: This project can help engage the community as their input is needed to create a drinking fountain that fits into the culture of Melbourne. There are high levels of sustainability as I am attempting to move people away from bottled water, to public drinking fountains. There is potential to expand the project and look where the waste water can be used, eg: watering parks, gardens. The promotion of drinking more water helps people to live healthier lives staying hydrated and avoiding high sugary carbonated drinks. Can look into where the water comes from, potential to capture drinking water from roofs.

Weaknesses: My lack of knowledge about materials which are desirable for public use and that can sustain high amounts of run off water. The cost of Manufacture as each unit will be expensive to build and in such situations is spent on by the councils so needs to meet many peoples approval. Melbourne’s population density the locations are most effective where there are large amounts of people around. There will be a lot of opposition as people will believe the goal of ‘No Water Bottles’ is unattainable or firstly don’t see a problem using water bottles.

Opportunities: This project helps Melbourne’s city council to develop and meet sustainability goals as no more plastic bottles will be used. The could be opportunities in getting councils interested if the research proves that people can be taught and wish to use my drinking fountain design. Having drinking my drinking fountains as a place where people come together as more people end up within the same location.

Threats: As this project involves a few different levels not just the end product it is important the research is vigorous. The project will easily fail if they are placed in the wrong locations and no one uses them. People don’t understand the deeper meaning behind the project to stop using plastic drink bottles. Cost of manufacture is high.

Project Description

There will be 5 phases within the design process, though some areas will overlap and be revisited through the project these are:

Phase 1: Research


Ideation/concept generation

Phase 2: Design Development

Phase 3: Detailed Design CAD work, engineering, technical drawings

Phase 4: Prototyping and Testing

Phase 5: Refinement ensuring the product illustrates its purpose.


Immersion within the project. Reading texts and literature related to the project. Including topic areas of public facilities, ownership and sharing, sustainability issues with plastic PET bottles, transportation systems of water, privatisation of water, where bottled water comes from, manufacturing and cost involved.

Existing products and solutions not only of drinking fountains see how they tackle problems with high moisture and wet areas. Image collection.

Photo dairies of existing drinking fountains a location map, people interacting with them, along with objects, situations and people of Melbourne that I see help to create the cities culture

Surveys, questionaries and interviews to see what people think about drinking fountains. Why do they use or not use them.

Material exploration, along with manufactures dealing with high use products and high resistance to breakage due to vandalism.

Waste water issues from the drinking fountains, water quality issues, hygiene issues. Are there any requirements or standards for drinking fountains

Product design and development

Three key stages include the external styling, internal engineering and the system in place around the product. (where the water comes from, locations of drinking fountains etc)

Brainstorming, Ideation and concept generation

Current Problems with original drinking fountains and issues, how to get more people to use them and stop drinking out of water bottles.

Sketches and Exploration

Documentation and scenarios of drinking fountains


Explanations about the project so people know I am doing this to stop the use of Plastic Drink Bottles.

Detailed Design

CAD using computer software to create visual representations of final design/s

Propose the concept to companies, councils and governments


Utilization of various prototyping techniques CNC machine, SLA Rapid prototyping, model making 1:1 scales

User Testing & Feedback: seeing what is working and successful


Final Prototype

Business opportunities, branding the drinking fountain so people know of the project. Potential Investors.

Project Outcomes:

Research report, Product design and development folio which will be collated into the thesis.

Key Activities, Timeline & Budgeting/Costs

Semester 1 2009:

Refer to Gantt chart for time line.



Anticipated costs semester 1

Anticipated costs semester 2


Drawing supplies and Printing








Manufacture, Model making



Books and resources




Extra unexpected costs




Project Deliverables

The deliverables for this project are:

  1. A concept for a drinking fountain designed for the city of Melbourne
  2. This concept will incorporate solutions as to why people are not already using Drinking fountains around Melbourne.
  3. A product that understands and reflects the systems it belongs to.
  4. CAD Model/s
  5. Rapid Prototype/ Model
  6. Supplementary Posters and Documents showing the goal is no plastic drink bottles
  7. A Business Plan of some structure that can be shown to councils and organisations
  8. Research Report, Design & Manufacturing Report
  9. Thesis (Approximately 10,000 words)

Project benefits

By completing this process I am given the opportunity to engage with industry in a professional context, with a project which has wider goals and objectives than just an end product. As a student I can still hold onto the luxury of being idealistic about my approach, and continue developing people’s awareness to sustainability issues. On completion of this project I can start my career as a practising designer knowing I have the capabilities needed to not only deliver products but make others understand the deeper objectives of projects, and the complexities involved. I also hope upon completion of the project I have a design that can potentially be enjoyed by many within the wider community.

Measures of Success

Key Performance Indicators

  1. Project delivered within specified time frame, within budget and to presented specifications, aims and objectives.
  2. A CAD model and prototype that demonstrates a high level of detail and understanding of the final manufacturing process and its requirements being used within the public realm.
  3. Market research, financial plan, marketing plan that clearly demonstrate that the final concept as a worth while product and investment for councils/cities, reasons why this project should be backed and supported.
  4. Showing that the goal of ‘NO WATER BOTTLES’ is attainable though the right design solution.
  5. A narrative document of the process and my experience, including visual and written records and extensive amount of personal skills & knowledge gained throughout the course.


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