Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Europe Journal: Diana Memorial Fountain

Located at one of the far ends of Hyde Park in London is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, an elegantly curved ring of water opened in 2004 (design by Kathryn Gustafson  from her London office of Gustafson Porter).  Although somewhat controversial, I found the feature quite engaging, even experiencing it late in the day in somewhat rainy weather.  The flattened perspective gives subtle hints to the overall shape, but invites exploration.

Simple pathways were added after the fact due to some issues with sogginess, but are done pretty well.  You can never really see the entire feature in one view due to some subtle berming of the interior areas as well.

The movement and sound of water is subtle as well, with a variety of textures and smooth falls that glide along - not rushing rapids, but a trickling and bubbling that is peaceful.

Some details show the different water flow characteristics, and you see the construction technique of the individual computer-cut pieces of granite connected together at intervals - a sort of sculptural feat in it's own right.

The aerial shows the overall configuration of the oval, with some of the context of the adjacent Serpentine Lake.

Unfortunately, videos of the features didn't make it back from Europe with me - so there is the missing experiential aspects and the sound and movement of water - which is really part of the experience.  If you are in the area, definitely worth a side trip to check it out for yourself


  1. I like the eternal circle as a fitting memorial to Diana and the water running through it, but am unhappy not to see any trees in the design.

  2. I think your review of the fountain is pretty neutral. Surely you can't be aware of the massive controversy this generated on opening. Amazingly, for a designer of Kathryn Gustavsson's stature, it appears to have been conceived with no conception of health and safety and crowd management issues. The result was that the fountain was closed for several months after opening, then reopened with ugly tarmac (asphalt) paths around it, a fence around the whole and an attendent on permanant duty. What was meant to be an integral part of the lakeside landscape is now cordoned off and 'managed' because the designers were too in love with their concept to think about certain practical issues. It looked wonderful on the design drawings; the reality doesn't quite work.

  3. Thanks Rowland. I was commenting mostly on the experience of the visit, so appreciate the larger context and history. I read some of the controversy (and injuries) that had happened over the time - which is another part of the story beyond the aesthetic and experiential. As always the practical must be weighed against the artistic.

  4. The cirsle of life, with all it's falls... I simply love it!


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