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Design research on public facilities  

Public Drinking Fountain

The project aims to promote people’s motivation of using public drinking fountain via design based on research. Four research methods, including information collection, fly-on-the-wall observation, interview, and survey are used to discover the design defects of current public drinking fountains in parks. A new public drinking fountain design concept is provided based on the results.

Project Type / 

School work


Role / 



Team / 

Ng Wing Man


Year / 



An average of 2,000,000 waste plastic bottles are generated in Hong Kong everyday, which is an enormous amount and should be paid more attention by both Hong Kong government and residents. Waste plastic bottles are mainly produced from people’s outdoor activities, as there are several concerns like hygienic problem, which may decreases people’s motivation to use public drinking fountains.

Research Methods

Four research methods: information collection, fly-on-the-wall observation, interview, and survey are used to evaluate the current public drinking fountain in parks. The former three aim to have a basic understanding of the public drinking fountains in parks of Hong Kong, which are for the preparation of designing a questionnaire to conduct a survey.

Research I : Information Collection

Research Location

  • Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories

  • With sports facilities

  • Largest numbers of drinking fountain


  • Recording the basic details of drinking

       fountain in Hong Kong

  • Prepare the information for questionnaire


Data Measurement

  • Container

  • Tap Detail

  • Switch Detail

  • Height of the Fountain

  • Dimension of the Machine

  • Overall Image and Surrounding Environment

Research II : Fly-on-the-wall Observation

Fly-on-the-wall observation is conducted to collect valuable information from current situation of public drinking fountains and users’ behavior.

Research III : Interviews

Location: Shek Kip Mei Park Tennis Court, Near the Changing Room

Size of the Machine (cm): 40.5*33.0*88.0

Height of the Fountain (cm): 16.0

Some of the interviewees mention the height of the drinking fountain may bring inconvenience to lower users like children. One interviewee thinks the cap on the tap is too big, which may cause hygienic problem touched by mouth. About switch design, four interviewees believe turned-button on the tap or side-pressing button on the side is more users-friendly than pressing-button on the tap. One of the interviewee also suggests designing a foot pedal. The wall of the basin is suggested to make higher to prevent water from spilling out and keep the surrounding environment clean.

Research IV : Survey

According to the results from the three research methods above, a questionnaire is designed for collecting peoples’ preference and providing us effective design details.

Final Design


By checking the current materials for outdoor drinking fountains selling online, stainless steel and weatherstone are the most comment two materials, which are durable and fit the environment of park. As there are many small gaps on the weatherstone that may store water and dust, stainless steel is chosen as the material for the body of our public drinking fountain design.


A higher machine with height of 95.0cm for normal user and a lower machine with height of 85.0cm for children and wheelchair users are proposed.

For the lower machine, the users of minimum height (age 3-6), 108.88cm, is set as standard; for the higher one, the average height of people age from 13 to 69 years old,162.06cm, as standard.As child’s height is equal to around the length of 4.5 head and an adult’s height is around the length of 8 head, out of the consideration that the lowest user for lower machine should be higher than the machine for at least one head, and the height of the high machine is better to reach the height of users chest, the height of lower machine is designed as 85.0cm and the higher machine is 95.0cm.

People on wheelchair can reach the height of maximum 110cm in front of a desk-like facility and need at least

65cm height for knees, which proves that the lower machine is also suitable for wheelchair users.

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