Water has the power to create vibrant public spaces by providing an oasis of refreshment, contemplation, socialization and play. Inspired by a flowing stream, Water Journey is a set of game modules that connect to create a giant chain reaction of play.
The water runs through channels and pools in which the users can play and interact with a range of props (gates, strainers, watermills, draw bridges, pumps and jets) to modify the flow. The system includes four modules: Boat Race, Jet Choreographies, Labyrinth and Pebbled Tide Pool.
This product line was created for Vortex, a worldwide high-end manufacturer of aquatic play solutions. They commissioned us to reinvent the traditional Splashpad, a zero-depth aquatic playground, as a new multi-generational play area for public spaces.
The resulting family of products is a modular system embedded in the ground to form the topography of a hydrological network. Like the Tangram Chinese puzzle, modules can be connected together to create multiple layouts according to site needs and constraints.
This concept of interconnected modules also optimizes the use of water as it flows from one game to the other – in fact, Water Journey is the client most water efficient product to date.
Water play in the city
A public place can gather people by providing a space where communities can meet, collaborate, celebrate and play. In the public realm however, the aquatic playground focuses very much on children and reduces interaction between generations rather then bringing them together. The design narrative is often childish, proposing a narrow set of play types and there is little effort to integrate the surrounding urban landscape. Furthermore, the play experience requires the users to get fully wet and forces the public space to organize into “wet” or “dry” areas. The result is segmented spaces and far less interaction between adults and children.
Water Journey was designed to be multigenerational: The variety of open-ended play experiences targets a wider range of users including adults. Some games are more active such as “Labyrinth” and “Boat Races”, while others “Jet Choreographies” and “Pebbled Tide Pool” are rather contemplative.
Water Journey invites urban designers . The product is embedded into the ground, and therefore merges into the urban landscape. Moreover, as the game consists of playing with the flow of water rather then being sprayed, all users can access the installation without necessarily getting wet – thus encouraging more diverse use cases.
But the most important aspect of Water Journeys is its ability to create connections between people, as the action of one participant impacts that of another further down the stream. The interaction is enhanced by the collaboration between users and encourages socialization – thus creating a shared collective experience for everyone.