As we continue with our commercial water design series, we study the element of water splashing and falling onto itself and adjacent structures. We hope you’ll be inspired to consider the element of splash if you’re looking for unique visual interest, movement, and sound. As you decide which water element best fits your architectural needs, you can explore more of your options in our other posts, The Effects of Illumination on Water Fountains, Mirror-Like Reflections in Water, The Visual Element of Mist, and The Unique Effects of Refraction Lighting.
Splash is caused by water falling on to itself, water cascading over rough surfaces, velocity of moving water, and amount of water flow. Due to these four ways that splash is incorporated into fountain designs, it is unfortunately one of the characteristics of a water feature that can be difficult to control. Indoor water features need to have a zero tolerance for splash out conditions. If a drop of water splashes out every 30-seconds on an interior fountain, at the end of the day you will have a cup or more of water on the floor. Outdoor fountains tend to have more forgiveness with splash out. This is because outdoor environments are designed for wet conditions.
Controlling Splash for the Effect You Want
There are a few ways of controlling splash. The most prevalent is a splash screen for water falling onto itself. For this to work, the screen needs to be above the pool water to fragment and disperse the water. The screen then eliminates most of the splash.
Another option is rock mulch. Sometimes a similar splash reduction/elimination can be achieved by using rock mulch. With water splash caused by water cascading over a rough surface, the only way to control splash is to control flow and velocity. However, doing this sometimes conflicts with the desired visual impact you are trying to achieve. My best advice with splash is that you do a mock-up of the feature. Validate the desired effect and the splash it produces, and then build the containment pool size appropriate for that water effect.
“Laughter sparkles like a splash of water in sunlight.” ~Author Unknown
If you are interested in designing visual effects using splash, you can take advantage of our complimentary Concept Validation and Budget Analysis.
This Water Design Series is by Greg Stoks, Principal at Commercial Aquatic Engineering (CAE). The purpose is to help our readers better understand design considerations when utilizing water as an architectural element. Read more about this Commercial Water Design Series.