How to make water flow with Flowforms

by | Dec 16, 2019 | Ecocentro Ipec, Land Art, Natural Building, Permaculture, Sustainable Living | 2 comments

It was love at first sight when I saw my first flowform when visiting the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales. Flowforms are beautiful water installations in any garden. Yet beauty is not the only value. The flowform is a sculpture, half art, half technology mixing aesthetics and ecological science. As water passes through each flowform, it is energised, contributing to the cleanliness and oxygenation of the pond.


Flowforms at CAT

flowforms_patternFlowforms appeared in the early 70s, based on the work of Theodore Schwenk, George Adams and John Wilkes. They were inspired with the movement of mountain streams and how they twirled around natural objects to create a vortex. They realized that the secret of the vitality of water lies within this rhythmic movement. The study was based on Rudolf Steiner’s theories, demonstrating rhythm as a kind of bridge between the sensory and the suprasensitive world.

Tests conducted in the Netherlands have shown that rhythmically treated water supports more microorganisms, which naturally and delicately prevents waste. The potential of flowforms is being recognized around the world, and they have already been incorporated into many different effluent treatment systems.

Water Elements

Ponds are great landscape elements. Small ponds were once a common feature in landscapes around the world. Unfortunately in recent decades we have experienced a decline in small ponds due to the fear of disease and insects. Yet ponds are important habitats that encourage predators such as frogs, dragonflies and fish to eat insects such as mosquitoes. 

flowforms CAT

Close-up of flowforms

Provided they are well managed, ponds can be very safe and play an important role in balancing the environment. Even in small volumes, ponds can support a wide range of life forms. And with the introduction of flowforms, they can aid in maintaining the health of a pond.

Making Flowforms

There is no specific formula for creating a flowform.  The flowforms pictured below were created at Ecocentro IPEC for public schools in Brazil. The project was called “Sustainable Schools” and encouraged teachers and students to create mini habitats for the science and environment curriculum.

  • The flowforms were first created in clay. We experimented with different forms to generate different rhythms in the water.
  • The clay sculptures were then used to make a fibreglass moulds.
  • Once ready, the fibreglass mould was covered in chicken wire.
  • The wire was coated with a thin layer of cement.
  • Once dry, another coat of cement was applied.
  • It is important to dry the cement form slowly.

Once it has dried, remove the flowform gently from the mould.

When attaching flowforms to ponds use a small water pump to continually pump water to the top of the flowform, which helps further circulate the water.

Creating an ambient around your flowform and pond will create a beautiful place to relax and meditate on the sound of a rhythmic waterfall.

Interested in reading more: The Rhythmic Power of Water by John Wilkes


Pond life with flowforms


  1. Sara Fishkin

    Hi Lucy,
    Do you have any advice about how to accurately design each of the flow forms? I know that there needs to be a vortex created as the water flows. I really want to do this! Thank you!

    • Lucy Legan

      Hey Sara, we experimented with clay forms first and a hose until we thought we got a nice flow, then we made them in fibreglass. It was trial and error as we had limited funds. I suggest make mini clay flow forms then once you have it right, make larger models. Good luck 🙂


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