By Heather Smith
Water is a life force essential for humans to exist. However, water is both a friend and foe when it comes to construction. When water is harnessed and contained, it enables modern plumbing, facilitates cleaning and maintenance activities on job sites, and serves as a source of art and entertainment once a building is operational. Water's added value is multi-fold when utilized to enhance the design aesthetic of a structure and the well-being of the people who use the facility.
There is a reason that humans crave spending time near streams, waterfalls, lakes, and oceans. Studies have found that the negative ions naturally formed by moving water can improve energy levels and mood, relieve depression symptoms, and reduce anger, among other mental and physical health benefits. As a result, indoor and outdoor water features have grown in popularity post-pandemic as architects and designers work to incorporate design elements that can reduce stress, support good mental health, and benefit overall well-being into projects.
Incorporating water features into indoor and outdoor commercial spaces has many benefits. First, they create a unique gathering place for everyone who uses the area. People are naturally drawn to sit around the edge of a fountain and watch the water while they eat, converse, take a moment to themselves, or while kids play. Water features increase the value of commercial space by amplifying its usability, attracting people, encouraging them to linger longer, and improving aesthetics.
The type of water features that can be built today is only limited by imagination. More common water features include fountains, large-format fish tanks, and reflecting pools, but even these more prevalent water features can have elevated designs. Acrylic panels can be incorporated as the walls of fountains and reflecting pools to give the appearance that water is suspended in space as it cascades over the invisible edges. Water walls and even water rooms, with seats surrounded by water on all sides, are also possibilities.
Each water feature design is unique. Some projects will incorporate components like structural metalwork, concrete forms, and even wood structures that act as a base support or complimentary design aspect for the water feature. In other cases, the water feature may be built from acrylic panels manufactured offsite and assembled at the building site. A few standard water feature options include:
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, May/Jun 2023 issue, Vol. 12, No. 3.