Starting Monday, residents and commuters going through the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood will be able to drink straight out of two reinvented fire hydrant fountains. At first sight, the spatial allure of the metallic structures of the “Borneos” incites curiosity, as if it were necessary to "drink in order to believe it." Installed Thursday, at the intersections of Mont-Royal-Saint-Laurent and De Brebeuf-Mont-Royal, these innovative, movable urban elements, developed by the Association of Industrial Designers of Quebec (ADIQ), will allow citizens to reclaim the water that sleeps beneath their feet.
"There are very few fountains in the Montreal area," said Catherine Piazzon, the project lead, who took over the project on behalf of the neighborhood. "And many others do not function because of old plumbing. The idea here is to provide free access to water." Therefore, in the course of the next few weeks, you may see Borneos appearing along biking paths or at commercial expos. More than just being able to get water, it will also be possible to escape from the heat around these structures, since they can turn into mist machines. All in all, a dozen water fountains will dress up in summer attire during the season.
A little over a year ago, after months of brainstorming, the ADIQ team approached the City of Montreal. "We were talking more and more about heat islands, of the necessity to hydrate during the dog days of summer," recalls Alexandre Joyce, one of the members of the ADIQ collective from the start of the project. As the organization expected, the Plateau neighborhood responded very quickly to their call. "When they approached us, we asked them for some changes, specifically for their to approach the water and fire services," explains Catherine Piazzon. "But as soon as they did their homework, we became very open to them."
The fountains were therefore designed so as not to interfere with the work of firefighters, the metal ring being mindful of the space necessary for their maneuvers. Passersby should not be worried about the water quality, since it will be tested at each site of change. For the City, this is also an opportunity to campaign for the elimination of non-reusable water bottles.
For the moment, the pilot project only plans for two installations, which could be moved a little throughout the neighborhood. "It is still too early to say, but maybe, with time, we will be able to make installations at a larger scale or leave them there permanently," specified Catherine Piazzon. If everything goes well, the City and ADIQ hope to see the idea multiply, starting from next year.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
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