Fountains Are Silly

n. fountain: a soothing or exciting spray of water upward from a body of water for aesthetic and relaxation reasons

Fountains are so ubiquitous that they have become part of our landscape schema…we might not notice that they’re there, but we would notice if they’re gone, from malls, universities, hospitals, doctor’s offices, hotels, government buildings, and conference centers. We would notice if they were placed somewhere like a daycare center, a Wal-Mart, or a public park. And why are they not there?

Fountains were a common decorative feature in ancient Rome, and have continued to be so. However, they have taken on an added dimension of promoting relaxation and contemplation. And yet fountains are expensive. Why do we need an expensive spray of water to relax? According to structuration theory, the practices of installing fountains, upon repetition, creates a structure, which could be social or mental, through which fountains become expected or required. My guess is that the rules for when and where fountains “should be” stem from the common function of the places they tend to be…places where a lot of money is spent. Fountains are, appropriately, a sign of decadence and wealth. Wouldn’t you rather cut an important business deal at a conference center with a fountain that costs the same amount of money the deal is for? Or go to a hospital that can afford the best staff and equipment because clearly they have enough to blow on a fountain?