Friday, November 03, 2006

Diana Memorial Fountain - Hyde Park

Diana Memorial Fountain, by Peter Watts

This photo of The Diana Memorial Fountain in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Princess Diana died in 1997, an event which shocked Britain and the world. The Princess of Wales had a place in the hearts of the nations like no other British Royal. This was clearly demonstrated by the 6 million or so visitors how came to London for the funeral of Princess Diana. After much debate and not a little controversy, this unique Memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 6th July 2004.

The Diana Memorial Fountain is found in Hyde Park just on the south side of the Serpentine Bridge, next to the Lido. In fact the Diana Fountain is more like a stream than a fountain, there are no sprays of water, no statue, nothing above ground level. The fountain is a large stepped oval trench made of 545 pieces of Cornish Granite set into the ground at an incline. Some 50 wide and 80m long this forms 2 channels that vary from 3m to 6m wide, through which water runs and bubbles to a pool at the bottom of the oval before draining away.

The Diana Memorial Fountain also has three bridges crossing the water ways allowing visitors access to the centre of the grassed oval. In the summer the Diana Fountain is popular with tourists who come and relax amidst the sound of bubbling water.

It was intended that the Diana Memorial Fountain would be child friendly, the granite was left with some grip and the idea was that people would be able to play in the water. This symbolism of the Princess’s joy of life was unfortunately short lived and after a number of people slipped in the fountain, running in the waterways was banned. You can, however, still dangle your feet in the water, but playing in the memorial is now forbidden.

The construction of the fountain is a testament to the collaboration of various industries and used ground breaking technologies. The whole site was modeled and then a 3D scan made by Ford Motor Company. Next Surface Development & Engineering created a 3D computer model allowing the designers to manipulate each of the virtual granite components. This allowed not only the shape to be analyzed but also how the different surfaces would affect water flow. From this model Irish stone masons used computerized cutting machines to shape the blocks mined from Cornwall. 'De Lank' granite was chosen for the Diana Memorial fountain as the colour would the flow and sparkle of the water.

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The full panoramic image taken for within the oval of the Diana Memorial Fountain can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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