What’s the Deal With Faucets?

Faucets may make better people out of all of us. Who knew?

Jack Balderrama Morley Jack Balderrama Morley

Each week, Architizer is highlighting a different building product and how to specify it. This week’s topic is faucets. If you’re looking for the perfect faucet for your next project, search for it on Architizer’s new network marketplace for building-products. Click here to join our waitlist. It’s free for architects.

If structure is the bones of a building and cladding its skin, then fixtures are its jewelry, right? Door handles, chandeliers and automatic bidets are the bright and shiny bits that are tacked on to buildings to make them pretty, no? No! How dare you belittle such important pieces of hardware!

Some fixtures, faucets, for example, are much more than pretty baubles. There’s a whole world of engineering that has gone into their design and production, and they’re able to achieve feats of physics that took centuries to perfect. Give them the respect that they deserve! When you’re picking out faucets, there’s a lot more you can think about than which one looks the nicest (but let’s be honest, that’s pretty important, too).

Left: ancient Roman valve, photo via Of Kids and Education; right: ancient Roman fountain faucet, photo via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Faucets are pretty incredible little gadgets with an engineering history that goes back nearly to the beginning of civilization. Around 1700 B.C., the ancient Minoans built terra-cotta pipe systems that released water through marble, gold and silver taps. While those faucets were little more than decorative openings, the Romans introduced valve technology that stayed essentially the same through the 19th century.

Left: touchless faucet by Kohler, image via Wayfair; right: Metris S touchless faucet by Hansgrohe, image via Hansgrohe

The 20th century saw the development of the single-handed faucet by Al Moen, which allowed users to control temperature and volume from the same handle rather than having to turn two handles to separately release hot and cold water. How exactly does that work? Don’t ask me! It’s complicated. And thanks to infrared hands-free sensors and water conservation technology, modern state-of-the-art faucets are actually really, really complicated. But they can also do some pretty amazing things. This week’s articles are to help you understand them a little better.

Left: Zaha Hadid Triflow Quadro Kitchen Tap, image via Zaha Hadid Design; right: KALLISTA Taper faucet by Bjarke Ingels, image via KALLISTA

Fashion designer Jason Wu’s matte-black line for Brizo, image via Home IQ

We’ll look at how top architecture firms like Zaha Hadid Design and Bjarke Ingels Group are designing taps for faucet manufacturers, translating their signature aesthetics to a smaller scale.

3D Metal Printed Faucet by DXV by American Standard

We’ll also look at the latest trends in faucets, like matte-black and rose-gold finishes, and give you a range of modish options to pick from. Some of the most surprising forms come courtesy of 3-D printing, which American Standard is using to create faucets that transition from a single pipe into a tight bundle of artfully disheveled straws.

Concept design of Quantum Tap by Michael Scherger and Dennis Kulage that measures how much water has been used, image via Tuvie

Finally, get ready for how faucets are going to face the future. Besides just pushing aesthetic boundaries, new concepts promote water conservation by suggesting ways that users can learn more about their habits and usage. Faucets, it turns out, may make better people out of all of us. Who knew? Aren’t you glad you’re giving them the respect they deserve?

As always, happy building!

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