Switzerland. Bern. Bundesplatz.

In the center of the capital city, in front of the parliament house, lies a square with 26 fountains. Each represents one of each counties of Switzerland. 2,000 bath tubs full of water are pumped daily through the nozzles on the square. The water shoots rhythmically, in sync, and at other times randomly, reaching different heights. The water display starts out softly and then goes to full power, reaching 7 meters in height, making the square appear foggy.

Bundesplatz. Previously a parking lot. Today a playground.

The water feature was built with the intention to upgrade the square so it wouldn’t appear so empty. Back then nobody could know that one day it would be the playground of the whole nation. Kids in bathing suits run around and through the fountains on warm sunny days. Even adults and dogs take part in the wet refreshment. Through the lively action and screams of joy one forgets momentarily their worries and is fully present. A kind of spontaneous meditation.

H2O - a formula which provides life and connects people.

Families, young people, and tourists stand around the fountains. All smile in appreciation of each other. But the kids are ahead of the adults! They don’t know any barriers and get easily in touch with other kids.

Very refreshing and inspiring.

“10 years of taking pictures of the fountains taught me: we can learn a lot from kids!”

Questions & Answers

What did inspire you to start this project?

When I started taking pictures there, I did not have a project in mind. After almost 10 years of collecting unique moments and constantly improving myself, I wanted to share it. The actual project is right now, to share the photos, stories & thoughts with the world.

In which moment did you realize that you have a passion for photography?

I fell in love with photography when my dad gave me a compact camera. A few months later when I bought my first DSLR camera, I got married to photography.

What positive effect had photograph in your life?

It made me more attentive of my surroundings and to details I haven’t seen before. It also taught me that you can see objects and situations in life in many different angles. In addition to that it made me curious about life, pulling me out of my living room into the world.

How many pictures have you shot of the Happy Fountains?

Each time I went (2-3 hours) on average 2500 photos have been taken. In 10 years, that comes to over 200000 photos!

What has been the most memorable event of this place?

After so many years of observing, to finally leave my camera and join the kids into the Happy Fountains.

What is your biggest satisfaction about the project?

It’s like with fishing: through a lot of practice and patience having caught a special kind of fish and having it as trophies in my house and sharing those rare fish with other people.

What do you feel and think about when you look at the pictures?

Since 2010 I live on another continent and have been visiting my parents almost every summer. So, when I look at the pictures it brings up many beautiful memories of the short time I spent with my parents. Sometimes I feel homesick looking at them. But also, those photos are a reminder how happy it makes to be in the moment and shift the focus from inward to outward. Sitting at the fountains made me always forget the past, the future and any worries/problems.

If you are interested in facts, the history of the fountains & actual operating times, visit my friends at “Stadt Bern”: Zu Gast in Bern, Sehenswürdigkeiten, Bundesplatz