Unraveling UST fountain spectacle

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The UST Quadricentennial Fountain, showing the University’s 400 years of excellence and “unending grace.” The fountain’s blueprint (right) shows the pipelines where water passes through. Photo by PAUL ALLYSON R. QUIAMBAOTWO YEARS after redefining the UST landscape, the Quadricentennial Square with its “interactive fountain” has become a popular campus hangout and a must-see for visitors.

UST’s own recreational water attraction is a spectacle especially at nighttime, but the intricate operation behind it is just as amazing.

The fountain, which runs at six to eight in the morning, eleven to one o’clock in the afternoon, and five to eight in the evening, has a complex set of controllers and involves a number of processes, mechanical engineer Antonio Espejo, assistant superintendent of the Facilities Management Office (formerly Buildings and Ground) told the Varsitarian.

Illustration by S.I.R. Macaisa“There is a water reservoir underneath where the cooperative canteen used to be situated. Five pumps distribute the water to the different pipelines around the fountain,” Espejo said. “An air compressor controls the pressure that propels the water out of the reservoir onto the surface.”

Water gets to the surface through jets or openings, controlled by choppers which cut the water’s continuous flow, allowing for the fountain’s water exhibition. The quadricentennial fountain has nine different programs or exhibitions for everyone to see.

The activities of the fountain such as time activation, water patterns display, and flood control are automatically set by a machine called the programmable logic controller, the main control system supervising the fountain’s operation.

“Since UST is a flood-prone area, especially along the Dapitan side where the fountain is located, there is a need to regulate the amount of water penetrating the fountain during the rainy season, which is what the programmable logic controller does,” Espejo explained.

In times of sudden blackouts, a generator readily powers the fountain. It also has two emergency pumps that can support the main pumps when they fail, and a sand filter to ensure that unnecessary impurities do not infiltrate the water supply.

“The water used in the fountain is recycled to conserve water. This recycled water is treated with chlorine to prevent algae accumulation, mosquito larvae infestation, and contamination before recirculation,” Espejo said.

Approximately 40 cubic meters or 40,000 liters of water are used for the interactive fountain, which in other countries are also known as wet decks, splash pads or a spray parks.

“Due to the huge volume of water used for the fountain, we only replenish it with new water once a year, when the water is no longer fit for reuse,” Espejo said.

Marking 400 years of unending grace

Industron Inc., designer of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Liwasang Bonifacio fountains, was tapped to build and maintain the interactive fountain.

Behind the pumps, pipelines, and machines is a structure that symbolizes the Thomasian identity.

The fountain’s sun-like floor patterns pay tribute to the University’s patron saint, Thomas Aquinas. Four cornerstones highlight UST milestones during its first, second, third and fourth centuries of existence.

“The fountain is part of the physical development of the University for its 400th year celebration. It serves as an integral part of the Quadricentennial Square which is constructed for the purpose of aesthetics,” said Giovanna Fontanilla, director of the Public Affairs Office. A.P.P. Bantolo and A.A.R. Rabino

Vol. LXXX, No. 1 • June 30, 2008

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