Royal Parks unveils ultimate drinking fountain designed by UK architects

Two UK architects have won an international design competition to find 'The Ultimate Drinking Fountain' for London's eight Royal Parks.

Robin Monotti Architects with Mark Titman's winning water fountain design,  Watering Holes - image: Royal Parks Foundation
Robin Monotti Architects with Mark Titman's winning water fountain design, Watering Holes - image: Royal Parks Foundation

Ben Addy of Moxon Architects won for Trumpet and Robin Monotti Architects with Mark Titman for Watering Holes.

They were chosen from over 150 entries from 26 countries.

The winning designs were judged on aesthetics, robustness for life in a public park, ease of maintenance and installation, sustainability and environmental impact and affordability.

The Mayor of London,Boris Johnson launched the competition earlier this year. He said: "I am impressed by the high calibre of designs and delighted that two British designers have emerged winners, from very strong competition across the globe.  As we look forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, I am sure Londoners and visitors alike will enjoy sampling our finest water next spring from one of the newly installed fountains in our great parks."

The competition is one element of a partnership between the Royal Parks Foundation and the Tiffany & Co. Foundation. The £1m fountain restoration project called ‘Tiffany - Across the Water’ has been funded primarily by a donation from Tiffany & Co. Foundation USA to the Royal Parks Foundation. The project aims to restore the Royal Parks' historic drinking fountains and to install new ones where old ones are beyond repair.

Royal Parks Foundation CEO Sara Lom said:

"We are staggered by the response to the competition and grateful to the Tiffany & Co. Foundation for this unique opportunity to restore and renew historic water features across the 5,000 acres of The Royal Parks. The new drinking fountain will benefit millions of runners, walkers, riders, cyclists and other visitors to The Royal Parks and will, we hope, be adopted by other green spaces around the world."

The Royal Parks Foundation’s vision is to improve the provision of fresh, healthy, energy – efficient drinking water across the parks and to minimise the vast number of plastic water bottles discarded in the Parks. The number of functioning drinking fountains in the UK is at a low. A recent survey by the Children's Food Campaign revealed that only 11 per cent of green spaces provide working water fountains. 

Tiffany - Across the Water will also see the creation of a new 20ft tall fountain in St James’s Park, as well as restoration of the 19th century Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens.

The panel was chaired by Michael Freeman who donated the Freeman Family Fountain to Hyde Park in 2009. He was joined by eight other judges including Richmond Park manager Simon Richards, art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon and CABE chair Paul Finch, who assessed submissions from designers, architects, engineers, students and ordinary members of the public across Europe and from countries including Australia, Singapore, Russia, South Korea and the US. British designers fared extremely well. Three of the four finalists were from the UK with the fourth being from Italy.

Drinking fountains have played an important part in London’s history since 1859 when the first fountain was unveiled in Snow Hill and within 11 years there were 140 fountains across the capital.

The winning designs will now be produced as full-size mock-ups. The first working units will be in place in the Royal Parks next year. They could potentially be replicated not only in the Royal Parks, but in other parks across the UK and worldwide.

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