Residential Fountains design. “I incorporate Fountains, whenever I can on my residential Projects, specially when I do the Architecture or the Landscape Architecture”.
The History of fountains is fascinating, primarily not only for the style or the Fountains but for the Architecture surrounding it and how they complemented each other.
Water is in Nature. It has always been in Nature, rivers, waterfalls the Ocean. They all refresh, produce sound, and have some drama to them. All cultures associate water with sources of spiritual blessing*. So water has existed always (on earth). But if you were not near a river or the ocean, you might want to have its blessing, the freshness, the sound and the drama where you were.
As part of water usage too, gathering for the resource was customary, therefore brought to streets or squares for convenience and for sharing. Then the Palaces, which could have everything brought in water. Most notably Versailles, The Alhambra and others. You could not think of their Architecture without their fountains.
Perhaps the best know Fountain is Trevi Fountain, Rome by Nicola Salvi, 1762. The biggest gathering in Rome on any hot summer day, and it does have its waterfalls with sound, and we all hope to come back, by throwing the 3 coins. Bathing in it is penalized, thank God. Here I must say Rome has 2 problems to solve. 1, is regarding the “Drinking Fountains” big nose, or nasoni*; the second is the Capital city of Fountains (and love), should have some New Fountains by new Artists, where you can soak, during the day, without disrespecting history. Competing with Bernini would be hard, but when you cool down you would love it and spend your money in other than plastic bottled water.
Residential Fountains design. As a kid growing up in Mexico City, there was nothing I enjoyed more than to be taken to the Great Fountain of The Giant by Diego Rivera, the shape over the vessel is actually a giant, but as impressive or more for me was the City’s water main going through, which you could see inside de mechanical adjacent building, the sound and the speed of the water moving through was incredible (recently restored).
I was also influenced by the Fountains of Architects Luis Barragán †, and Ricardo Legorreta†. Barragán the second Pritzker price winer was discovered if you will, or his best know projects were a set of fountains and water bodies at the Fountains of the Lovers at the San Cristobal Stables in Mexico 1964. Legorreta, a Barragán follower did a magnificent fountain at the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City. See Barragán’s fountains on our Pinterest board @ https://www.pinterest.com/jacobsdzn/fountains/
This Blog however is devoted to private Residential Fountains (not Palaces or Hotels nor Public), and not devoted to History but does refer to basic principles, and Residential Fountains Design, from our own Projects, and when possible or appropriate reference to others. We will not focus on the grand and beautiful historical fountains, but on the much smaller versions. The scale which can be used in today’s residential design, and on the opportunities or examples we have had.
Residential Fountains Design. As designers, architects and engineers, we are just modifying the course of water. Water goes up first, then it comes down. Fountains were one of my first projects. Not only because I was initially devoted to Landscape design and urban planning, but because one of my first clients wanted my help with a garden.
I was fortunate to have been brought up in a home with at least 2 large fountain ponds I recall, one in the Gaudi style, unfortunately they hardly ever had water. Maintenance cost was/is an issue, as even important public Fountains are sometimes left waterless for extended periods of time unfortunately.* See nations fountains).
One of the most important aspects of fountains is water movement. Ideally water comes to the site with some pressure to take it up, coming down by gravity. Systems work with pumps, especially in residential design. A Palace or Institution could have a river nearby and divert some of the water, temporarily, borrow it then return it. In Islands like Bermuda you use the roof to recuperate the water into your own home, at any small residential level.
Left, La Tia Tani fountain by Gerardo (Jerry) Jacobs 1976. Right, Arq. Luis Barragán fountain. Los bebederos 1962. Both use Black to reflect like a mirror.
After completing my college degree my dear friend and aunt Tani, gave me my first job which included a Fountain, walking down from the main house into the new garden area, the steps rotate around a tree. The vessel is recessed overflowing into the garden, the movement and a bit of sound came down from the house too, however there was no pump recirculating the water or adding any pressure, nor overflow (I’m sure they were disappointed and added those later when I left, ups..). Done with the help of my dear friend Fernando (Ferrus) Marcin†.
Black on the pond and wall, with plants dripping on right and papyrus on the steps end. Nenufar water lilies on the water. Good Poetry but bad engineering, I was too young. The Barragán Bebederos fountains are fountains this one for its length but also for the restrained use in color. It’s black and has vanishing edge al around. It is a mirror. I first learned about the Black mirror effect in the pools Arq. Andres Casillas (formerly with Barragán’s studio) did some home’s for my family’s development company at a time, all with black pools
This fountain at the corner of Casa Lila my home in Chimalistac, CDMX Mexico City. It works well with the Colonial Architecture in the neighborhood. It also diverts traffic well, however the best thing for me is the sound, it is always creating a murmur, and of course water is so fresh when you walk around it.
We did the Architecture and Interior Design for this 20,000 sf Villa, and 6 fountains at Villa on the Beach. Two overflowing Urns and 2 jets (not shown) at the entrance Plaza. 1 Nautilus and 1 Lion Head below at the Loggia ends. See the Loggia Fountains from one end to the other.
Residential Fountains Design. The Lion Head and the vessel below it were purchased from an Antiques Dealer, then we designed the Fountain around them. When the vessel overflows it drips into the water container below, where it recirculates from. See the small door at the bottom right side for pump control. The wall outside the fountain frame and the tile are at 45˚, and the fountain has Egyptian Papyrus.
I have always liked the Nautilus shape. The “Spira mirabilis” and logarithmic spiral as described by Descartes and often found in nature.
When we were completing Villa Madonna on the beach, the owner asked what I was going to do under an exposed staircase on the loggia (see before image below). It is in my pocket, I said. (I knew the question was coming and had sketched it a few minutes earlier with a ball pen and literally had it in the back pocket of the bermuda shorts).
Residential Fountains Design. At the other end of the Loggia, we had an area under the staircase to the Master Bedroom. This was like the unfinished area, and I knew the client was going to ask about it, so I sketched it and put it in my pocket. When he stopped by I said Voila! Then we went to work, into who could do it and how. How would the water act, refresh, produce sound and so on. Before on left; During on right; Completed at top.
Simple Urns overflow. Hoe entrance plaza. Villa on the Beach
Fontana Veneziano Acrilico A- Las Vegas, Nevada ©George Diebold. George Diebold’s photograph is really how a close up of the Urn fountain above would feel and look. Available as a large scale print. Looks great.
We did the Remodeling, additions, pool and Interior design of this Villa for a Music Star. We did 3 fountains. 2 essentially equal shells at each end of the pool plaza or veranda, then we were able to carve a third fountain at the foyer and make it Nautilus II.
Superb Gaza. Top Shell (Family Trochiade). This shell was our inspiration for these 2 fountains. Very in demand but hard to acquire. From the Golf of Mexico. Local Crema Maya carved Columns and fountain bases and trims. Volcanic Stone backgrounds to Shells and floors. On left notice the jets from the Arch and the spit out of the mouth. On the right a larger vessel or pond, water is even filtered and you can use as a small shallow pool on your way to the Ocean Beach, or back. Pool not shown.
I did a sketch and this one I kept, then we drafted the floor plan for the wedge and curved vessel , then we began to build it. See wire stage and procedure. The completed, day and night. Dry and wet.
Foyer Fountain. On the way out. Crema Maya limestone column and seat, faux Marbleized molding and sky.
Wet as a fountain should look. Sound is good, but with the Ocean at the other end of the home or the exterior hallway there is no way to compete with the sound of the waves.
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