New Public Hydrant would let New Yorkers drink from city water mains

New York designers Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken have created a series of bright blue plumbing fixtures that could turn the city’s fire hydrants into public drinking fountains or showers.

The conceptual project, dubbed New Public Hydrant, was developed over summer 2018 in response to a brief from the Water Futures research programme organised by Brooklyn creative space A/D/O. Curated by Jane Withers, the initiative aims to find design responses to the world’s increasingly pressing water scarcity issues.

New Public Hydrant by Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken

“Water Futures aims to inspire the creative community to take action in reimagining our toxic drinking water culture,” according to the dedicated website.

New Public Hydrant proposes three devices that use standard plumbing parts to plug in to New York City hydrants.

New Public Hydrant by Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken

“While New York City is one of only five major cities in the country with a high enough water quality that does not require filtration, this fact is often neglected in favour of purchasing filtered water in plastic bottles,” said Agency-Agency, who teamed up with Woebken on the project.

The first in their set, Hydrants for All, aims to bring drinking water to city-dwellers, pets, and anyone else that may need it. Four shallow dishes at various heights would allow adults, children, dogs, and birds to drink the city water.

New Public Hydrant by Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken

The lowest basin is a dog bowl, the middle two are outfitted as drinking fountains for humans, and the top vessel forms a bird bath. A vertical pipe connects these basins and ensures they stay full.

Next in the series, Hydrant on Tap is a refill station for reusable water bottles. A long handle controls the water flow, which comes out of a curved spout resembling a faucet. “[Hydrant on tap] references the idea of tap water, that could be accessible outdoors in public space,” said Agency-Agency founder Tei Carpenter.

New Public Hydrant by Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken

“[The hydrant] monitors refills and prints out a ‘footprint’ receipt to connect the implications of drinking local water to the global implications of drinking from plastic water bottles,” added Agency-Agency’s project description.

Finally, Hydration Space is a sprinkler that shoots water upwards, to cool the immediate surroundings and create a play area for children. Images of the installation show it spraying water in a large radius surrounding the hydrant.

New Public Hydrant by Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken
New Public Hydrant responds to A/D/O’s Water Futures programme and is on show at the Brooklyn creative hub

All three of these interventions would feature shutoff valves, to avoid wasting water when not in use. These would also the users to control the water flow. “You can actually use the valve to control the water pressure as well depending on how you turn it,” Carpenter said.

New Public Hydrant is on view at A/D/O until 15 November 2018, alongside proposals by Studio Swine and Ooze that also respond to the Water Futures brief. “The exhibition aims to reinvigorate the relationship urban residents have with water by weaving water more visibly and imaginatively into cities and our lives,” said the A/D/O website.

New Public Hydrant by Agency-Agency and Chris Woebken
The all-blue products are installed on the walls at A/D/O and accompanied by information about project

Last summer, Brooklyn design incubator’s courtyard hosted an installation by United Visual Artists made up of rotating mirrored columns that created a kaleidoscopic effect. The venue was previously activated with a pop-up factory by London-based collective Assemble, built from blue and white tiles fabricated on-site.

Photography is by Tei Carpenter and Chris Woebken.

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