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Architect Rethinks Water Tower’s Form

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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Water towers tend to be readily recognizable as what they are and for the purpose they serve. One Belgian architect, however, decided to seek out an alternative to the traditional utilitarian design and create something a bit more artistic in nature.

From that spark of inspiration, architectural firm V+, located in Brussels, Belgium, created “Chateau d’eau,” a designerly yet functional water tower in the town of Ghlin, Belgium.

From Utilitarian to Sculptural

Despite the varieties in size and shape of water towers serving the infrastructure, most tend to be rounded and with curved walls. “Chateau d’eau,” however, is noticeably blocky in its exterior shape, as square metal mesh walls enclose and disguise the more traditional tank form inside.

Maxime Delvaux/354 photographers

Architectural firm V+ designed this water tower to meet its client's request that the structure rethink the traditional form and also serve as a landmark for the area, according to ArchDaily.

The 20-meter-diameter tank sits on a flat platform supported by a system of assymetrical concrete “legs,” which were cast on site, as architectural site ArchDaily reported. These pillars, formed by V and X shapes, support the structural load from the four corners.

According to renderings on the architect’s website, the structure hearkens to a familiar setting: a household table on which a vessel of water—in this case massively upscaled—has been set.

The actual water tank, which has a 2000-cubic-meter holding capacity, is not actually a part of the concrete structure, but instead rests on a platform. This offers flexibility should the town decide to reconvert the water tower at some future time, ArchDaily said.

At night, LED lights illuminate the 52.5-meter-high structure structure from within the uncoated aluminum screens, giving the whole tower a sense of lightness and transparency.

Franki Construction, part of the Willemen Groep of Mechelen, Belgium, served as contractors on the project. Construction on the tower began in August 2012 and was completed in May 2014. The water tower was formally inaugurated in May 2015.

Editor's note: the text has been updated to clarify the height of the structure as well as the natural surface of the aluminum mesh screens.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Water Tanks

Comment from Christine Gunsaullus, (12/16/2015, 9:32 AM)

Gorgeous way to reimagine a tank, but I'd love to know the cost!

Comment from Bill Patterson, (12/16/2015, 9:58 AM)

If the tank "sits on a flat platform supported more than 50 meters off the ground", and if we assume a minimum water depth of 5 m for fire storage, then the minimum water level of 55 metres would lead to a minimum water pressure at the base of about 80 psi. Methinks that 50 m is to the top of the structure. Second issue—does that mesh have to be painted?

Comment from Amy Woodall, (12/16/2015, 10:02 AM)

Hi Christine, the architect's project specs showed a budget of 1.5 million Euros (about US$1.64 million).

Comment from Tony Rangus, (12/16/2015, 12:28 PM)

"...and create something a bit more artistic in nature." I think not. It looks like an elevated anti-aircraft installation used in WWII. Just plain ugly.

Comment from Amy Woodall, (12/16/2015, 4:38 PM)

Bill, you are correct: the total height of the water tower is 52.5 meters. Also, the architect has let us know that the metal mesh is not painted; it is natural aluminum.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/17/2015, 8:35 AM)

Cubical cage on a concrete platform doesn't seem particularly aesthetic to me, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps it looks better at night.

Comment from Christine Gunsaullus, (12/18/2015, 8:28 AM)

Thanks Amy! A 1/2 million gallon elevated tank normally runs $1 million, so the artistic elements added $500,000 to the project. Worth it? Well, beauty will always be in the eyes of the beholder, and I love tanks.

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