By its very nature, a spraypark is a dream come true for water lovers. It becomes a world unto itself — a place for people of all ages to enjoy the temporal experience of water at its simplest: a spot in which to splash, play and experiment. Sprayparks obliterate the boundaries of a traditional aquatics facility. Water runs downhill, shoots up from the ground, pools and cascades upon the heads and shoulders of passersby.
The inspiration for this Dream Facility is a simple stream, the spot where childhood memories are built from summer afternoons whiled away: playing “pooh stick,” damming the creek and searching the depths of quiet places. Like a natural stream, the flow of the creek increases as it passes by tributaries that have age-specific spray elements. Every space provides opportunities to engage, be it mentally or socially.
Benches and well-placed rocks give parents an area for relaxing and conversing under the shade of a tree or in the summer sun. These tributaries collect into a brook and basins can fill as children block the flow of water with noodles and foam blocks. Thus, the act of changing the course of the stream becomes a way to experience and understand the pleasure and wonder of water through play.
Our creek ends its meandering course in a reflecting pool. Shallow water hovers over the surface of a natural stone basin to reflect the surrounding environment. Smooth water is intermittently broken by a joyful dance of sprays and streams that seamlessly spring out of the still pool of water, momentarily disturbing the mirror images of trees and sky.
Beyond mere visual intrigue, this kind of aquatic theater becomes, more importantly, a feast for all of the senses.
At night a dazzling display of lights shines like summer constellations, changing colors as choreographed water shoots and flits across this aquatic landscape. As with all choreography, music is a key component to the evening ballet. This syncopated, illuminated and animated aquatic dance will lure partners of all ages to kick and splash in the cooling breeze of summer evenings.
An arbor provides a place for families and couples to wander the periphery of the spraypark. We create an exterior corridor with an overgrowth of flowering plants that provide protective shade and heady aroma. These corridors lead to exterior rooms — quiet, sheltered “spaces” — that can be used for picnics, parties and gatherings.
To enhance the formal aspects of the arbor and pavilions, a labyrinth formed from traditional boxwood plantings blends into an ever-changing maze of water walls, paths and fountains that lead participants on a captivating route.
At the times when it is dormant, the spraypark is integrated into the landscape, merging natural and man-made elements. A pre-dawn jogger can pass by the creeks and reflecting pools and enjoy its peaceful beauty. By mid-morning, it slowly awakes at the insistence of young visitors.
While this dream is technically challenging, its intricacy is humbled by the natural environment that it is meant to augment. Thus, the dream spraypark becomes the dream park: When active, all the wonder of water is here for our play, but when the water is still, we have a gracefully integrated landscape for our peace.