Living in Portland, we've all come across one of our iconic "Benson Bubblers". You know, those bronze drinking fountains that are sprinkled throughout downtown Portland (the four-bowl variations, as the single-bowl fountains are not actually considered Benson Bubblers). Although these iconic drinking fountains carry notes of nostalgic folklore (like the hopes of keeping unscrupulous loggers at the out of saloons in the afternoons), they often get a bad rap.
If you have ever come across one of these drinking fountains, you've probably had the same personal debate as most Portlanders have experienced on a hot summer day. You're running to catch the MAX after work, but you forgot your BPA-Free, eco-friendly, happiness inducing, reusable water bottle at the office. What does one do? Alas! A Benson Bubbler appears, flowing cool Bull Run reservoir drinking water. But it's the same fountain you've watched the one-legged pigeon preen himself in all day. Keep Portland weird right? Nah, I'll grab a Dasani from the bodega.
Whether you're courageous enough to take your chances with the iconic bubblers, the trash and recycling bins parked nearby, speak to the amount of people who chose bottle over bubbler. So, what's the deal Portland? We live in a city with over 125 public drinking fountains, yet many people still tote around plastic bottles like were running out of water (sorry California). Has the water bottle fad struck so deep that it's no longer cool to drink from a fountain? Are these bubblers simply outdated, seemingly unsanitary, or maybe the bird on it had you thinking they were clever art pieces (Portland Water Bureau assures you they are clean and safe)? Whatever the issue, I say it's time to reinvent the drinking fountain!
Across the pond in London, that's exactly what they're doing. Architects Journal (a British architecture magazine) and Turkishceramics (a group representing 34 ceramics brands in turkey) asked some of London's leading architects, including the likes of Zaha Hadid, to come up with a new revolutionary drinking fountain design to be placed along the River Thames.
And why not? Design mattered when water started being bottled in the first place. It was an image being sold, not the water. So let's give public drinking water a new image. Let's throw out our plastic water bottle addiction (in the nearest recycling container of course), and live in a world where one does not have to be ashamed to stoop over the drinking troughs of yore.