Water fountains have a long place in our history. Dating back to the Ancient Roman times, these reservoirs were first designed with a purely practical purpose—for holding precious drinking water and bathing. These early fountains were uncovered, free standing, and placed along the street for public consumption. (Wealthier folks also had them in their homes.) Of course, like many things the Romans did, they added some ornamental elements to their creations and started a tradition that carries on today.
Grifo Mágico (Magic Tap) in El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz, Andalucía)
Photo credit: Emilio J. Rodríguez-Posada
Now, fountains have a decorative place in our culture. Artists and architects approach them first and foremost as sculptures with elements of water in them. This liquid addition creates playful public art that delights and even surprises us. One popular concept is everyday things blown up as larger than life. The Magic Tap Fountain in Cádiz, Andalucía appears as a faucet that’s floating in midair. From it, water pours into the “sink” below. Its jumbo size makes it seem as if a giant forgot to turn off the tap.
Other fountains designs are completed with water. The ghostly Water Boat Fountainin Valencia, Spain, comprises just a few bent-metal pieces that reveal a deserted ship once the liquid flows.
See how artists, architects, and sculptors have redefined the art of water fountains, below.
Metalmorphosis by David Cherny at the Whitehall Technology Park in Charlotte, North Carolina
Photo credit: RFL Photography