Power of 3
Three fans of water sprinkling on the surface of this pool are the pinnacle of a design and construction project that is uncluttered yet multilayered. The water feature is part of a project that included regular structural elements, paving and retaining walls, as well an extroverted piece in the form of a fire pit. The significance here, is that the fire pit and water feature were designed and built in tandem to be viewed and experienced together. The materials used and the landscape design serve to unite the elements of fire and water.
The design began with the existing pool coping to be retained which informed the material selection for the new tiling and retaining walls. The imposing sandstone blocks where chosen not only for this matching colour and texture, but also for the appropriate scale in a semi rural context. The block walls appear complete and almost refined at the house,yet slowly deteriorate to rubble in the landscape. It is from within these ruins that the fire pit and water feature rise up to take centre stage.
Positioning the water feature between the house and pool was not conventional but possible due to the opportunities specific to the site. The space is criss-crossed with pathways and is visible from many places, limiting the options to make the area a living space. A water feature was chosen as it added interest and a focal point to an empty central space. To make this work it was important for the raw form of the waterfeature to be visually permeable. To achieve this three tall thin independent structures where chosen and the desired finish to parallel the other works.
Like little skyscrapers, it was important for the three structures to be flexible against horizontal forces. The engineering inspiration for this was the human vertebrate backbone. Most obvious, is the cut sandstone boulders acting like back-bones holding the structure vertical. Tendons holding the vertebrae together are in the form of individual galvanised steel bars within the stones attached with epoxy at locations most susceptible to movement. Between each stone, a layer of silicone acts like intervertebral discs to allow slight movement and absorb pressure. This assists the steel to hold the stones together. Safely encased within the stones is a central PVC pipe. Like the spinal cord, the pipe delivers water to the top of the structure, like impulses sent to the brain. Creating infinite possibilities and inspiring the life of a millions impulses that flow through our nerve endings like water droplets in the rain.
The water spouts are positioned facing north to find light on every water droplet as the sun sets between the stones of the fire pit. These three pillars have a timeless element that makes them prehistoric. They also take the viewer into a science fiction episode that denies our basic understanding of the physics of stacking rocks, and the effect of gravity on water. In this way the power of three has its greatest impact – past, present and future.