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Water Tower Gets Townhouse Touch

Friday, August 1, 2014

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When a 70-year-old water tower in Belgium reached the end of its service life, it didn't get the typical blast-repair-repaint treatment that keeps a structure going a bit longer.

Instead, architect Mauro Brigham and his Bham Design Studio transformed the 100-foot-tall structure into a residence so remarkable even Rapunzel wouldn't want to climb down.

Called Chateau d'eau, the tower was originally built sometime between 1938 and 1941. Not only was it in service until the early '90s, it was also used by the Nazis as a watchtower during World War II.

Photos: Bham Design Studio

This 100-foot-tall water tower in Belgium was restored inside and out to make a rather impressive six-story home.

Now it just gets to sit and look pretty.

Mixing Old with New

Before converting the interior into a chic domicile, the exterior was fully renovated to its initial state by repairing and painting the damaged concrete columns, completely replacing the brick joints, and enlarging the windows on the top floor of the six-story structure.

Care was taken to preserve the existing concrete elements that give the building its "strong identity," such as the main water conduct, concrete ceilings, concrete stairs and 250,000-liter concrete water basin.

Work to convert it into a single-family house started in 2008.

The couple that lives here rents the tower one or two nights a month to "high-profile" business execs.

All of the visible concrete inside the tower was painted in dark gray "to mark the old from the new," the studio explained.

Heck of a Floor Plan

If you're wondering how much functional space a water tower could really offer, here is a break down, floor-by-floor (and this doesn't include the two-car garage):

  1. Technical room, storage and utility.
  2. Guest room and office, or "An envelope inside the envelope," as Bham Design Studio describes it.
  3. Bathroom. That's right, the bathroom gets an entire floor, complete with a 15-foot-tall shower head.
  4. Bedroom. But it sounds so much better when the experts describe it: "This circular room with a dome ceiling hosts revolving stairs leading to the upper floor and a full monolithic mirror dressing [which] reflects the surroundings and gradually disappears."
  5. Living room, kitchen and dining room.
  6. Panoramic terrace, featuring raised IPE wood flooring and a shower.

What's this Button Do?

The tower is chock full of high-tech goodies, including the latest IT technology, "the possibility to install projectors virtually anywhere on the top floor," and an advanced home automation system that allows one to control various facets of the home.

The third-floor bath features a 15-foot-high showerhead. The panoramic terrace also offers a place to rinse off.

And exactly what are these various facets? They include mood-setters such as the color and intensity of the lights, the volume on the sound system and the temperature of each room.

Business Bungalow

The couple currently living in the tower rents out part of the building once or twice a month for "very exclusive events targeting management people looking for a place to make workshops, high profile companies that seek a unique place to meet top clients near by the airport," the design studio said.

Brigham was the interior architect on the project; Bham Design Studio gets credit for the interior architecture, garden, terrace and coordinating the project; and Architect Wouter Bilzen of MUNA renovated the exterior and structural elements.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Tower

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