Robin Monotti Architects Win Tiffany & Co & Royal Parks Drinking Fountain Competition

Robin Monotti Architects with Mark Titman won with their entry Watering Holes, which was chosen from over 150 entries from 26 countries.

The winning design was judged on aesthetics, robustness for life in a public park, ease of maintenance and installation, sustainability and environmental impact and affordability. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson launched the competition earlier this year and spoke highly of the project: “I am impressed by the high calibre of designs and delighted that two London designers have emerged winners, from very strong competition across the globe.  As we look forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, I am sure Londoners and visitors alike will enjoy sampling our finest water next spring from one of the newly installed fountains in our great parks.”

The judges felt that the Watering Holes design was very ‘Art-led’ and the Trumpet strongly ‘Design-led’ and thought that each, in its own way, held enormous potential for The Royal Parks. As the standard was so high, the judging panel finally decided to showcase both designs.

The competition is one element of a partnership between the Royal Parks Foundation, the charity for London’s eight Royal Parks and the Tiffany & Co. Foundation. The £1million fountain restoration project called ‘Tiffany – Across the Water’ has been funded primarily by a donation from Tiffany & Co. Foundation USA to the Royal Parks Foundation. The project aims to restore the Royal Parks’ historic drinking fountains and to install new ones where old ones are beyond repair. As there is no off-the-shelf drinking fountain suitable for The Royal Parks Grade I listed landscapes, there was a need to find a simple, practical and aesthetically pleasing design through the international design competition, launched by the Royal Parks Foundation and Tiffany & Co. Foundation in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) earlier this year.

Sara Lom, CEO of the Royal Parks Foundation says: “We are staggered by the response to the competition and grateful to the Tiffany & Co. Foundation for this unique opportunity to restore and renew historic water features across the 5,000 acres of The Royal Parks. The new drinking fountain will benefit millions of runners, walkers, riders, cyclists and other visitors to The Royal Parks and will, we hope, be adopted by other green spaces around the world.”

The Royal Parks Foundation’s vision is to improve the provision of fresh, healthy, energy – efficient drinking water across the parks and to minimise the vast number of plastic water bottles discarded in the Parks. The number of functioning drinking fountains in the UK is at a low. A recent survey* revealed that only 11% of green spaces provide working water fountains.  2,000 times more energy is required to produce bottled water rather than tap water**, so drinking fountains are a practical and environmentally friendly way to refresh visitors and minimise waste.

Tiffany – Across the Water will also see the creation of a stunning new 20ft tall fountain in St James’s Park, as well as restoration of the much loved 19th century Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens. Fernanda Kellogg, Chair of the Board of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation said: “I have really enjoyed being a part of this prestigious judging panel and have been so impressed with the quality and scope of the entries from all across the globe. I along with the rest of the Tiffany & Co Foundation will greatly anticipate seeing the installation of the winning designs in London’s Royal Parks.”

The panel was chaired by Michael Freeman who generously donated the Freeman Family Fountain to Hyde Park in 2009. Michael was joined by eight other judges*** who assessed submissions from designers, architects, engineers, students and ordinary members of the public across Europe and from countries including Australia, Singapore, Russia, South Korea and the US. British designers fared extremely well. Three of the four finalists were from the capital with the fourth being from Italy. Both the panel and RIBA have been delighted by the response: the competition resulted in three times as many entries as would be normal for other competitions of its kind.

Drinking fountains have played an important part in London’s history since 1859 when the first fountain was unveiled in Snow Hill and within 11 years there were 140 fountains across the capital.

The winning designs will now be produced as full-size mock-ups. The first working units will be in place in the Royal Parks next year. They could potentially be replicated not only in the Royal Parks, but in other Parks across the UK and worldwide.

***The Jury consisted of Michael Freeman, a Trustee of the Royal Parks Foundation and co-founder of Argent Group, currently developing 8m sq ft at King’s Cross

Paul Williams, RIBA’s adviser RIBA’s adviser, co-founded the leading architectural practice Stanton Williams in 1985,

Fernanda Kellogg is Chair of the Board of The Tiffany & Co Foundation,

Paul Finch the advisor and chair of CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) is the Programme Director of the World Architecture Festival,

Andrew Graham-Dixon is a leading art critic and TV presenter. He is the Chief Art Correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph and a Turner Prize judge,

Sara Lom is Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Foundation, the charity for the eight Royal Parks,

Simon Richards is Park Manager of Richmond Park,

Emily Campbell is currently Director of Design at the RSA and was previously the British Council Arts Group’s first Head of Design & Architecture,

Robin Levien is a product design specialist who with his colleague Dave Tilbury, has designed 15 per cent of all bathroom suites currently sold in the UK.

About the International Design Competition

The competition was open internationally to all design disciplines, including architects, engineers, product designers, artists etc.

Designs were judged against the following criteria: aesthetics of the design, robustness for quality of life in a public park, ease of maintenance and installation, sustainability and impact on the environment and affordability.