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Design Principles
 

Design Principles

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The intent here is to present an overview of the basics and fundamentals of design theory as related to water features. These fundamentals are: context, form/line, materials/textures, light/colour, ...

The intent here is to present an overview of the basics and fundamentals of design theory as related to water features. These fundamentals are: context, form/line, materials/textures, light/colour, motion/movement, sound, wind and concealed components.

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    Design Principles Design Principles Presentation Transcript

    • DESIGN PRINCIPLES
    • Founded in 1967, Crystal Fountains is now a globally recognized leader in the commercial water feature industry. With a history of product innovation, design, commercial and custom manufactur- ing, the company has expanded from one office to offices in Canada, U.A.E, Singapore and Poland. www.crystalfountains.com
    • Introduction Water is both simple and complicated. The simplicity of a silent and reflective lake or pool is undeniable. Water is also complicated. When water moves, complex interactions and forces, displacements, and energies control its dynamics. The two forces that modify the horizontal surface of water are adhesion (= the attraction of water molecules and other materials) and cohesion (= the attraction of water molecules to one another). It follows therefore that the key to making a successful and captivating water feature is to control the way water moves without losing control of the water or ruining the aesthetic with poor execution. The intent here is to present an overview of the basics and fundamentals of design theory as related to water features. These fundamentals are: context, form/line, materials/textures, light/colour, motion/movement, sound, wind and concealed components.
    • Aesthetic Factors A designer usually incorporates water into a space as a visual element. The aesthetic qualities of water, however, reach far beyond the visual aspect due to the documented psychological effects of water as a metaphor and as a physical factor providing sound, and climatic modification. The sound of water and the coolness associated with being near or touching water are equally parts of our emotional response to water in the environment.
    • Aesthetic Factors - Visual Impact Water can function as a focal point within a space or as a means of creating and maintaining a sense of continuity. A water display can strongly temper the character of a space. A sense of clam and serenity is created by a quiet stream or pool, while excitement and drama can be achieved by swiftly moving, densely massed, or strongly vertical displays. The level of formality will be influenced by the forms of the pools and displays, and the mood further defined or reinforced by appropriate lighting.
    • Psychological Aesthetic Factors - Psychological Impact It is an essential aspect of human behavior to be drawn toward a riverbank, lake edge, or seashore. We either live near water or convey it to where we live, using canals or pipelines. Our food supply likewise depends upon water for growth and sustenance.
    • Aesthetic Factors - Auditory Impact The intensity and frequency of the sound generated by a water display can be used to convey a sense of calm or excitement, and can also mask unpleasant or distracting ambient noise.
    • Aesthetic Factors - Sensory Impact Airborne spray and evaporation from water displays cause a cooling effect. Droplets and sprays from active, aerated displays are particularly effective. The Middle East fountains perfected this design by creating small openings in the walls that surround courts yards and gardens enclosures. Prevailing winds would be concentrated and directed towards the fountains, which were placed in line with the interior courtyards or buildings.
    • Context Every water feature has elements of context that must be considered during the design process. Contextual factors can be categorized as either aesthetic or safety related.
    • Aesthetic Context Consider the surrounding architectural and landscape forms. Is there an opportunity to incorporate or use related design forms within the water feature composition? Would it be advantageous to consider using the same or similar materials finishes or textures for this water feature? If lighting is to be incorporated, consider the existing or proposed ambient light sources. A good water lighting scheme may end up being overwhelmed by the surrounding sources of ambient light.
    • Safety Context Consider how this feature will be utilized both during the day and in the evening hours. Are there safety issues that may restrict or may have serious implications on the water feature design? Interactive water features, in particular, have unique spatial (i.e. run out space), water velocity and water treatment considerations. These restrictions may result in limitations on the type of water effect, operational heights and dynamics designed into a feature. Also consider if there are any splash issues related to the areas surrounding the feature. Adjacent plantings or public walking areas may mean that splash will not be tolerated due to liability concerns.
    • Form and Line Water is a liquid with no apparent shape unto itself. Its form is determined by the characteristics and qualities of its container/context. As a result, the same volume of water can have an infinite number of characteristics depending on the play of light, materials, textures, colour and motion. As with all design, consider form and line as it relates to the design of any water feature.
    • Form • Form has a mass and volume within a space and has degrees of symmetry and irregularity. The more striking, unusual or contrasting one form is from its surroundings the stronger the visual attraction.
    • Line Line gives direction and movement to the eye, expresses emotion, expresses distance and establishes perspective. The quality of line is used to define a space – it carries the eye along its route. This eye movement prompts emotional and psychological responses. For example, vertical lines can be perceived as severe/emphatic and horizontal lines can be perceived as pleasant/satisfying. Consider adding decorative line to supporting elements and material details within the water feature. For example, decorative grates are a creative way to reflect surrounding design elements and can enhance the viewer experience.
    • Materials and Textures Materials and their accompanying textures help to enrich the visual quality of a water feature. Texture comes from the size and shape of the surface quality of material that water is running over. Textural qualities can be identified as roughness or smoothness / lightness or heaviness / thinness or denseness. Smooth textures can be considered physically undemanding / pleasant to touch and highly reflective and complimentary to surrounding form. Selecting the correct water feature materials can go a long way to conveying the right aesthetic for a particular space. A variety of materials can be applied to water feature designs:
    • Glass The transparency, translucency and reflectivity of glass make it a rather unique material to use in the context of a water feature. These unique characteristics can result in some spectacular outcomes and effects. As a versatile material glass can be utilized as castings or panels, frosted or textured, transparent or translucent, clear crystalline or coloured. Textures can be added internally or externally. The addition of light further enhances these effects.
    • Glass Water is expressed differently depending on the type of glass and lighting that is utilized. Textured glass can help to aerate and enhance the water flow over it. Water over a smooth glass texture can be almost undetectable depending on the lighting conditions. Water flow over glass (as with all other materials) can be expressed by the resultant sounds.
    • Stainless Steel The corrosion / oxidation resistance, strength and reflective properties of stainless steel often make it the metal of choice to use in commercial water features. It is important, however, to select carefully the appropriate grade for a particular application as corrosion can result under certain conditions. Stainless steel can be used as a material to run water over as with a water wall. As a practical element used within a fountain composition stainless steel panels can help to hide undesirable mechanical components. It can also be used as a decorative element as with a sculpture.
    • Stone Natural stone has long been used in water features. There are many colours, textures and forms of stone that can be utilized as a fountain material. Naturalistic designs may make use of less refined forms of stone while contemporary designs may incorporate a more refined stone finish with high reflectivity. Modern designs may incorporate naturalistic forms such as a dark river-washed stone to create a highly reflective water effect. A stone’s porosity may also be a significant consideration especially when designing water walls where a porous stone may actually allow water to migrate along surrounding walls and to places not intended for water to be. The lack of uniformity with stone may also be considered its greatest asset. A variety of textures allows for a variety of water effects when water flows over it. From the aerated effects created when using split faced stone within cascades to the smooth and calming effects created with laminar flows over smooth finished stones.
    • Light and Colour Pure water is colorless and thus relies on its surroundings/context to transfer color. Light and color have a strong influence on the resultant mood that a water feature conveys. Colours can soothe and evoke a sense of calmness or they can arouse and evoke a sense of thrill and drama. Two of the primary sources of color that should be considered when designing a water feature are that which originates from the finished material pigments and that which is derived from lighting effects.
    • Material Colour Various coloured materials can have different impacts on a water feature’s overall character. Darker coloured materials tend to showcase and enhance both active and inactive water effects. For instance, aerated water and the associated shimmering effects stand out more when run over darker surfaces. Inactive water, such as that of a reflecting pool, is most reflective over darker pool finishes.
    • Lighting Effects Lighting can have a very dramatic effect on almost any water feature. Evening viewing, of course, is dependant upon effective lighting techniques. This is true for both interior and exterior fountains. White, submersible, incandescent halogen lighting is particularly effective at evoking an elegant character. On the other hand, submersible colour-changing LED lighting can project a very dramatic and eye-catching show. The position of light sources also has an impact on the water’s visual character. Consider placing light sources in front, within, behind and externally. These can all have different effects on the water feature aesthetic.
    • Motion/Movement Water can be classified into two general categories according to its motion: static (still) or dynamic (moving).
    • Static Water This can be found in pools, ponds and gently flowing channels and streams. Static water is visually placid and expresses a balance and equilibrium with the force of gravity. Consider the visual power of a static water display especially when juxtaposed within a dynamic environment such as an urban core.
    • Dynamic Water This is derived from moving, flowing or falling water techniques. Dynamic water is energetic and emotionally stimulating. It easily captures the attention of the eye and is often articulated as a focal point within a designed space. Consider also that water movement can be influenced by the steepness of the slope, prevailing material textures, the introduction of obstructions, the pool/channel width and the pool/channel depth. Higher rates of movement are related to increased visual and sound characteristics.
    • Because of its fluid state, a given volume of water expands outward until it is stopped and contained. The characteristics of water flow are a result of the container it is in. For instance, the same volume of water can be rather placid in a wide container but be quite turbulent when funneled through a narrower channel because of the increased resistance. Also consider that highly textured surfaces may slow water flow and increase turbulence.
    • Sound A major characteristic of water is the ability to emit sound when it is in motion or strikes a surface. Depending on the amount of movement and volume of water involved, numerous sounds can be produced that complement and enhance the spatial experience. Sounds can be considered as pleasant, neutral, moving or unpleasant.
    • Sound Attention to the audible aspects of water is very important; too little can be irritating (i.e. a dripping faucet); too much, especially in confined spaces, can be considered overpowering. The sounds of water are infinitely variable and can be manipulated to produce trickles, dribbles, bubbles, gurgles, roars, gushes and splashes. The neutralizing characteristics of water sound can also be a significant tool. Creating “white noise” can effectively mask out external noise pollution. The absence or near absence of water sounds can also be perceived as a source of emotional tranquility as with a reflecting pool or a laminar water flow.
    • Wind Wind can have a major impact on the character of water and water effects. As an aesthetic element, the interplay of wind and a water surface can create interesting variations of the same water feature.
    • Wind Consider also the prevailing winds when designing any exterior water feature. For instance, if a traditional water fountain pool is being located between two buildings where a wind tunnel effect may be present, consider limiting the maximum heights of water jets to a value less than 1:1 (i.e. the maximum height of the vertical water jet is set to less than the distance it is from the pool wall). Wind sensors can also be used to regulate the jet heights automatically. The splash that can result from sweeping winds can be especially problematic in public spaces where public safety is very critical. In desert environments, wind movement of sand into a water feature may have certain mechanical implications.
    • Concealed Components The success of any water feature design is not only dependent upon basic design principals it is also hinges upon how the execution is carried out. In other words, has the detailed design of the various mechanical and electrical components incorporated low impact solutions? There are various techniques that can help to minimize the impact of these:
    • Concealed Components Suspended Pool Slabs – Mechanical and electrical components can be largely concealed with the use of suspended paver slabs. A pedestal system and/or stainless steel framework (allowing water to flow between each paver) typically supports these slabs. Penetrations are made to allow water jets and lights to be incorporated. Lights are often hung off of the slabs. All equipment can be serviced by simply removing the suspended pavers.
    • Concealed Components Suspended FRP Grating – Similar to the suspended pool slabs, FRP grating is an open grid of fiber-reinforced plastic from which lights can be hung and water jets can penetrate through. A river washed stone is usually applied over the grating to conceal all of the components below. Maintenance and wash down is easily performed with this system.
    • Concealed Components Decorative Diffusion Plates – A fountain pool that is clad with a stone can also have the diffusion/inlet plate constructed of the same material. This allows for the pool bottom to be virtually uninterrupted. Decorative Drain Plates – A level deck drain plate can be fabricated to have decorative grille designs. Submerged Water Jets / Choreoswitches – Incorporating water jets that can be submerged minimizes the impact of hardware during non-active periods. Niche / Recessed Light Fixtures – Whenever possible, ensure that light fixtures are concealed as with a recessed fixture or behind some sort of shroud.