The Dandelion Fountain

On a recent trip to Helsinki’s amusement park Linnanmaki, we came across a fountain that Ilona mentioned was somehow connected to the fountain in Sydney’s Kings Cross. Having lived in Sydney for eleven years my interest was piqued – how did such a famous monument in the Southern Hemisphere come to be replicated here, at a fun park, more than 9000 miles away?

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The fountain at Linnanmaki

Like all good investigative reporters I headed straight to Wikipedia (ha!) where I was happy to read but misinformed that the man who designed the Kings Cross fountain was born in New Zealand. Turns out Bob Woodward was actually born in Sydney in 1923 and his career designing fountains that resemble dandelion thistles had a strong link to Finland.

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El Alamein Fountain, Kings Cross

During World War II, Woodward worked mostly as an armourer where he honed his skills working with wood and metal. After the war he studied architecture and travelled to Finland to study with one of the country’s most famous artists, Alvar Aalto. Woodward was impressed by Aalto’s commitment to bringing the organic world into design. During an interview in 1996 he said “Aalto’s principles are that essentially everything in architecture is related to biology. If you take a leaf from a tree, for example, you can see design principles which should apply to architecture itself.”

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Aalto’s iconic vase – at times attributed to the flow of a Sami woman’s dress or the lakes of Finland

In 1955 Woodward returned to Australia where he won a competition to design the El Alamein Memorial Fountain to commemorate the Australian soldiers who fought in Egypt in 1942. The fountain became an icon for Australian tourism and is now a common meeting place for people in Kings Cross.

Woodward's legacy spread like dandelion spores across the globe

Woodward’s legacy spread like dandelion spores across the globe

Woodward went on to win international recognition for his design and had a long career designing fountains around the world. His works can now be found in countries as diverse as USA, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Turkey, Sweden, Romania, Ukraine, China and yes! New Zealand. In 1972 the Ferrier family commissioned replica fountains to mark the opening of the Christchurch Town Hall in New Zealand.

Ferrier Fountains - Photo Credit: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1021-1516

Ferrier Fountains in Christchurch – Photo Credit: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1021-1516

El Alamein Memorial Fountain

Bob Woodward Obituary