Urban Plinko – Shima Miabadi and Kieran Martin

Throughout the early history of modern cities the fountain was a place for people to gather out of necessity to get water and to socialize to get the local news.  However today all we need to do is flip the faucet handle and fill our glass.  How often do you ever think about the inner workings of how far that precious life source had to travel to even enter into your home?  It has become such a trivial nature in modern cities today.  However in lesser countries today the watering hole plays a huge part in the day to day goings of life.  Tap City designed this competition to try and invigorate a modern fountain into today’s city fabric.  Check it out after the jump! 

SCHOOL: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
STUDENTS: Shima Miabadi and Kieran Martin
COMPETITION: Tap City Competition

‘Tap City’ is a design competition that re-thinks the relationship between city dwellers and their infrastructure. It’s increasingly difficult for urbanites to think about the origin of their water. And that’s the point of infrastructure. After all, they are under-structures or sub-structures; they’re either below ground, or far removed from our quotidian activities. The faucets you find in your home are perhaps the handiest reminders of our water system, but we’re more interested in public connections to water. The drinking fountain is perhaps the most widely recognized of these. The Duncan Dunbar Memorial Fountain, at the corner of West Fourth St. and Thompson St. at the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, is the topic of the first Tap City.


“The Duncan Dunbar Memorial Drinking Fountain provides the designer an exciting site due to its historic importance to Greenwich Village and the harmonious manner in which it balances human engineering and the natural unpredictability of water. “SANDS THROUGH the (HOUR)GLASS” seeks to coalesce these three key concepts into the material of our intervention. The design takes historic geometry and construction principles as a takeoff point, gathering a swarm of rectilinear “building blocks” around the corner of W. 4th and Thompson Streets. These blocks align along the engineered linearity of Judson Memorial Church’s horizontal rustication, but are then penetrated by organic (ie. physics based minimal surfaces) voids through the translucent blocks. Through the integration of engineered volume (:blocks based on historic trial and error) and organic void (:penetrations derived from natural laws) “SANDS THROUGH the (HOUR)GLASS” physically exhibits the dichotomy of the Dunbar Memorial Fountain. The temporal aspect of the memorial fountain is represented through the erosion of the “building blocks,” provoked by running water and true grit. The construction process and arrangement of the blocks creates a system that does not require additive materials after installation. The shelves act to collect rainwater, which funnels through the calibrated voids into the catch basins/public benches. Once collected, the rainwater is circulated by large gauge, low pressure pumps powered by solar panels. As the water pours over the voids, it collects and carries the powdery grit from the 3D printed hole, catalyzing the act of erosion. Over the course of time, the opaque prints of the void give way to polished translucency, providing a dynamic installation which allows New Yorkers to recognize loss through time. Just as our memory fades with time, so too does “SANDS THROUGH the (HOUR)GLASS.” Our re-framing of the Dunbar Memorial Fountain seeks to reinstate the corner of W. 4th and Thompson Streets as the hub of Greenwich Village community through the introduction of relaxing benches and an integrated children’s game. The game, a type of “urban plinko,” plays out by children choosing one of five outlets then watching as an object is introduced at the origin of the fountain and finds its individual path to one of the five outlets.”

All text and images via www.bustler.net & www.tapcitycompetition.org

1 thought on “Urban Plinko – Shima Miabadi and Kieran Martin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s