The history and popularity of Old Market Square in the hearts of the people of Nottingham needed a very special, versatile and inclusive design. Since completion in 2007 the Gustafson Porter designed scheme has proved its worth, a thriving centre to the City and a home to civic events, fairs, concerts, markets and the summer Beach Party. The scheme was commissioned by Nottingham City Council and Ocmis implemented the water features with Balfour Beatty Ltd as the main contractor.
The water features at the western end of the square are huge, complex and enormously popular. There are three main elements, a 30 metre long reflective water table, a jet terrace with arching jets that are fun to all age groups and also a reflective and interactive water scrim.
The sky and surrounding buildings are reflected in the water table and scrim, enlivening the space and adding to the appreciation of the surroundings. The water table at the southern end of the water fall is cleverly animated by the dynamic water effects on the sides as the water flows over the edges into the rills. The design of the water fall at the southern end creates strings of water that break up and catch the light, enhancing the effect using a minimum water flow. The different widths and ranges of the bespoke arching jets give height and a random feel to the central terrace, allowing people to interact and walk close to the jets without having to get wet. The adjacent scrim has a few millimetres of water flowing over it, again to allow children and adults to walk over it and interact with the water without getting wet.
At night the feature is subtly lit with lighting under the water fall and in the two rills. The fibre optic lights in the jet terrace highlight the movement and form of the arches of water and draw people towards it. The light from the surrounding buildings and street lighting reflects in the wet surfaces, making a magnificent spectacle of the Town Hall when viewed across the feature from the western end of the square.
The mechanics of the system are installed underground in the old public toilets. The water recirculates so minimal additional water is needed. A large below ground tank allows the features to drain down when not in use without wasting the water. There is an automatic filtration and treatment system that ensures the water is safe, and the display pumps are controlled through a bespoke control centre to allow features to be operated to suit the activities in the Square.