Adding Creativity to Urban Stormwater Treatment Design - "Rainwater Art"
The design and implementation of urban stormwater treatment facilities often times results in infrastructure that is not compatible with the community aesthetics and is a neighborhood eyesore. Stormwater treatment infrastructure can be used to create site amenities and add elements of beauty (rainwater art), even though “artistic engineering” may seem to be an oxymoron. Integrating “art and beauty” can result in greater community satisfaction and perceived value since water provides an opportunity to create a focal point through inspiration and vision. Specialized design strategies are discussed which apply different techniques and methods of transforming stormwater facility design through creativity to provide added value to the community. The important benefit of an artful approach to stormwater management is that there is flexibility to integrate aesthetic design features while addressing multiple stormwater management objectives with these techniques. Artful stormwater infrastructure creates recognizable amenities in the urban environment and designs that invite visitors to explore, learn, and enjoy aesthetically pleasing landscapes. A hidden benefit of this approach is increased awareness for stormwater management and the value of stormwater as a resource. Creative stormwater design incorporates manipulation and amplification of physical features, natural materials, topography, and landscaping that can provide an interaction or connection that influences the core fabric of the urban setting. A more holistic and inclusive design approach is explored to successfully integrate a creative planning program to ensure the maximum benefit to the community. Artistic design and creative form for stormwater design relies on initially developing the imaginative vision fostered from inspiration from a variety of sources. An integrated approach is critical at the initial planning stage which focuses on combining stormwater management with site/landscape design. Artful methods can be employed with expressive designs calling attention to stormwater and creating value by seizing opportunities to combine beauty with practicality in environmentally sensitive ways. Achieving aesthetic richness enhances the public experience by combining interesting forms, color, sounds, and through the composition, itself. A variety of successful programs to facilitate integrating “rainwater art” for stormwater facilities are reviewed, focusing on the successful elements of those programs as well as innovative examples of creative art applied to different types of stormwater facilities.