The Fountainhead – Australian International Design Awards
Street Furniture Makers Pty Ltd
The fountainhead is an aesthetically unique design for a public drinking fountain. The curved fountain form delivers a controlled stream of water in an arc, from which a person can drink or fill a water bottle. The Fountainhead has a cantilever of 500mm, enough to allow a standard wheelchair to approach from the side, locating the disabled person’s mouth at the middle of the water flow. The fountain has no bowl to collect waste water. Instead the cantilevered curve has a 10mm concavity to guide the waste water down its surface into the mounting pit and waste water pipe which are below surface level. This enables wheelchairs to have easy access, and all drinkers to quench their thirst.
The fountainhead has a primary function to provide controlled, reliable, hygienic water to the general public without prejudice to the aged, wheelchair bound or children.
Product safety and water integrity were priorities. The water hygiene was addressed by using a back flow prevention valve at the spout exit, stopping line contamination and also by shaping the spout at an angle and size so that it is very difficult to place your mouth directly on the outlet. The product itself is robust with no small pieces to break off and has no sharp edges.
The Fountainhead has a push button stop valve a short distance from the water streams point of exit; one problem with this was the turbulence created as the water passes through the valve. The turbulence makes the drinking water spray out, which was unpleasant to drink from. This problem was over come by using a back flow/flow rate nipple and smooth bore tube on the exit to the stop valve. Smooth bore tube will over a long distance provide lamina flow; the combination of the two reduced the length by 75% allowing all the necessary components to fit into the confines of the spout.
Two major innovations exist in the Fountainhead design.
Firstly, a design without the traditional bowl eliminates the problem of litter and other material collecting creating stagnant pools of water at the place where you put your face to drink. The Fountainheads water is carried away down a concave curve.
Secondly, site/time management has rarely been considered in fountain design. However, the Fountainhead provides a flexible staged installation suitable for the majority of landscapes, it involves making the fountain independent of its’ footing.
When the Fountainhead is ordered a mounting pit is sent to the customer immediately, the pit is then fitted into the ground and plumbed by a licensed plumber. The surrounding landscape can be finished up to the edge of the pit. The pit rim is a hardened aluminium casting that allows asphalt or pavers to be packed against it without damage. The pit is designed to be installed flush with gradient up to 1:20. Four threaded rod bolts chemically anchored into the pit allow for adjustment in the fountain, to make it level when the ground is not. (Dimples cast into the pit base indicate bolt positions)
Why does the product represent design excellence and why do you believe it deserves an Australian International Design Award?
The Fountainhead design identifies existing problems such as unreliability, poor hygiene, vandalism and lack of disabled access, then uses innovative solutions to comprehensively redefine public drinking fountains. This product is an elegant blend of form and function forever changing the direction of drinking fountains in the future.