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Vortex globe feature for National Endowment for Science Technology and The Arts

This vortex globe water feature was designed and engineered for NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology and The Arts.

A bespoke, 800 mm diameter, acrylic globe stands on the bead-blasted stainless steel plinth which is polished to a mirror finish on the top. The vortex is generated by the tuned application of a pump and nozzles forming inlets and an outlet. The water is always in a state of flux – a balance between the pumped flow and the effects of vortical motion under the influence of gravity. The movement of people in the offices is sensed by the custom-built microprocessor which drives the vortex through a feedback control system. The intelligent software learns how to react on a daily basis. Three vortex control programs are provided.

The vortex rises to fill the globe. As it rises, its reflection is seen in the mirrored surface of the plinth, adding another dimension to the feature. Lighting, projected through the vortex, creates an ever-changing display above the globe. The globe, when full, holds about 250 litres of water which must be crystal-clear at all times. This is ensured by using fully deionised water and a bypass recirculation loop with UV steriliser, in-line filters and environmentally-friendly water treatment means. The whole volume of water is contained in two linked tanks.

Simon Tegala, a NESTA Fellow, commissioned the work having proposed that the intensity of a vortex of water should reflect the movement of people within the NESTA offices. He suggested that by having movement sensors across the space it would be possible to control the vortex.

The technology that is embodied within this water feature is unique and the designs and processes behind it are protected by patent applications.

This design has granted patent and design registrations.


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Vortex Features Information