Sunday, March 25, 2007

We have a fountain!

Yes, indeed, after 75 years without a fountain in our square, we now have one, it being officially started yesterday. The local council, who paid for it, with some of the two milion guilders they 'found' in the treasury a few years ago, organised a great street party with musicians, entertainers, food and wine and beer and speeches. Hundreds of people turned up from all corners of the neighbourhood, and further afield, yesterday afternoon, when the sun also made a late but very welcome appearance. The photo here shows a group of maori drummers, beating out a rain dance to greet the imminent switching on of the water spouts.

There was a book published which told us how the project started twenty years ago by some local people who were intrigued by the fact that when the area was built, there was a fountain in the square. This fountain was removed in 1932 because it no longer worked and in order to create more space for cars. This resulted in the 'square' becoming an ordinary road junction and losing its function as an area where local people could meet and pass the time of day with each other.

The fountain is a modern design, inspired by a fountain in Milan. They had previously tried to find the original iron fountain in any one of the depots of the local councils, but it could not be found. They thought about a replica, but that was going to cost too much money, so they decided on this modest but elegant modern design. The base is made of two circles of pink-ish granite, beautifully sculpted, one on top of the other, with water spouts and floodlights coming out of the one in the middle. The granite came from and was sculpted in northern China (where it is cheaper), whilst the technical aspects of the fountain were left to a German company. It is an 'intelligent' fountain, which can adjust the height of the water spouts on the basis of the strength of the wind and it will switch itself off when the temperature is below 5 Centrigrade, to prevent any chance of the water freezing and damaging the system.

It is really quite amazing to think that we now really do have a real fountain in a beautiful square, just outside the house. It is a great example of what can be done by a group of people with a good idea and a determination to reach their goal. Public spaces are important, probably more so with the increased amount of alienation and individualism there is in modernday western society. Whereas not every street can expect to have its own fountain, I am sure there are substantial benefits to be had from devoting more attention to the provision and maintenance of public spaces.

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