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Balinese Street Fountains

( I wrote this article for the blog Water in the City (WITC) in 2010. WITC no longer exists so I wanted to re-post it.)

On my recent trip to Bali, Indonesia I fell in love with the quirky street fountains and water gardens. Often small and in front of shops, the water features are usually home made but have ambitious design concepts. The features alone are small, but taken together as a street scape you feel as though you are walking through a much larger urban water garden.

This is a micro water garden in front of a nail salon in Kuta where they do fish tank pedicures. Water bubbles out of the two tiny rectangular plinths. Notice how they extended the geometry of their water garden with the paving. The whole garden is less than 1.5m square.

A small sculptural fountain built into the sidewalk in front of a shop. The fountain is only about 1m high. In the US we would probably think of this as a residential or large table top fountain but here it is built into the street scape which gives it a greater sense of monumentality.

This fountain with an overflowing vessel is located in front of a fine textile dealer in Ubud. The sound of water fountains can be heard on many Balinese streets.

A spiggot on the fountain let’s them water the grass and other plants in their front courtyard directly from the fountain.

PVC pipe and a garden hose create a pretty ambitious water wall on the front windows of this massage parlor.

A large ceramic vessel overflowing with water sits in a nook between building along a major street in downtown Ubud. The water was a little bit funky, but the display of water running off the lip of the vessel was gorgeous and surprising regular. The strong sound of the water curtain could be heard from two store fronts away.

Bali is criss-crossed with channels of all sizes, many larger than small runnel in a shopping district.  Intended for irrigation and drainage, this channel has been transformed into a water feature with the addition of a stone sculpture of a woman (with a vessel) at the water’s edge and the adjacent seating area.

Located 1/2 a block from Kuta Beach, along the sidewalk at the south edge of the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel, this feature combines large architectural water walls,  rain curtains and geysers. Ambitious in scale, this feature becomes a focal point for the whole block and creates a small public space as people gather in front of it.

I love the strong connection between water and vegetation in the fountains in Bali. Almost every time a water element is present there are plants flourishing nearby. Often times, in the United States I feel that we forget to include (or intentionally exclude) plants in large scale water feature designs.

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