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The Basics of Water Fountains

Copyright (c) 2007-2019

What Is A Fountain?

A fountain is a man-made installation, in which water issues from a source before falling or cascading into a basin, bowl or receptacle of some kind. The water is then drained, re-circulated or otherwise removed from the bowl; for example by being used to fill water containers.

Water fountains were originally conceived as a means of distributing drinking water to the populations of towns and cities. Fountains formed the delivery points of natural streams and aqueducts, and historically were always gravity-fed from a higher reservoir or storage area, or by using the pressure of an underground stream.

This technique was invented and mastered by the ancient Romans, whose water distribution infrastructure was extremely advanced, and enabled them to use their network of aqueducts to distribute water to a network of public fountains that served Rome and many other towns and cities.

Fountain Technology

Fountain designers in past times were often aided by technical specialists who understood the science of hydraulics and were known as artisans. Hydraulics is the science governing the behavior of fluids and gases, and artisans understood how water behaved under pressure and would design and install the necessary pipe work and drainage for fountains, ensuring that the designer (often a sculptor or an architect) was able to realize their design successfully.

Today, gravity-fed fountains are much less common, and most fountains are supplied with pressurized water by pumping systems that take their supply from water mains or from nearby lakes or rivers. Fountains are normally for decorative purposes only, and the water in them is often re-circulated for efficiency.

The availability of modern technology has not lessened the need for fountain designers to have a sound grasp of hydraulics, though, and it is still important for a fountain designer to be able to calculate the volume and pressure of water that will be required to realize their design. Factors such as the height to which the water will rise, the radius of the bowl it is to fill and the climate of the area in which it is to be installed all play a role in a fountain's design, and must be understood by the designer.

Fountain Designs

Traditionally, fountain designs were based around a raised source, from which water issued, and a basin or bowl into which the water cascaded. For many centuries, this fundamental structure remained unaltered, governed as it was by the practical requirement for fountains to deliver water to people. This practical need did not prevent fountain designers from producing imaginative and artistic designs, and fountains have historically been gathering points for people, especially in warmer countries, where they are traditionally located in the centers of squares.

Since the advent of domestic plumbing, the need for fountains to provide a vital public service has gradually been eliminated, and today, fountains usually serve solely to provide a visual and aural focus in public spaces.

Many people find the sound and sight of falling water to be relaxing and even therapeutic, and in very hot climates the light spray given off by a large fountain provides a welcome coolness on hot days. See a collection of water fountains at http://www.garden-fountains.com.

The lack of any practical restraints has meant that fountain designers have been able to experiment with many different shapes and forms of fountains. Fountains that are built into a paved surface, that rise from the centre of a lake or fountains that follow the line of a terraced gradient - all of these and many more exist in towns and cities all over the world.

Modern designs often rely on the flowing water itself to give shape to the fountain, resulting in a spectacular sight when the fountain is working, but a somewhat barren and mechanical view when it is switched off! This is a stark contrast to more traditional designs, whose sculpted and imaginative lines can be appreciated with or without flowing water.

Private and Domestic Fountains

Most of the discussion so far has been on fountains in public places, but domestic fountains have been commonplace ever since Roman times. Wealthier Romans would own large villas, built on a quadrangular design. Those that had sufficient wealth and influence would be allowed to have a direct feed to their property from the nearest aqueduct. The result of this was that many of these villas had their own fountains, often imaginatively and stylishly designed to be the central focus of their garden areas.

This trend continues today, but fountains are far more affordable and accessible than they were then. It is possible to relatively cheaply and simply install a fountain in a typical garden or yard, and increasing numbers of solar-powered designs are available that eliminate the need for a mains electricity supply to operate the fountain.

All sorts of designs are available, from traditional circular bowl-based designs through to modern designs with lighting and smaller, self-contained designs that can be installed indoors. You can even get miniature fountains that will fit on a desk or tabletop!

Final Thoughts

Water fountains highlight the fundamental affinity and dependency that human beings have with water - not only do our lives depend on supplies of fresh water, but many people find their souls are soothed by the sight and sound of running water, and it offers a welcome antidote to the stresses and strains of modern life.


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Written by Elizabeth Jean for http://www.Garden-Fountains.com an online retailer selling water fountains, wall water features, and garden statues. For more information, visit: The Basics of Water Fountains

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Last Distribution Date:
2007-04-05 11:00:00

Internal ID: #4309





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