Dutch Water Tower Converted into Apartments

FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2023

A historic 19th century water tower in Utrecht, The Netherlands, was recently transformed into luxury apartments by architectural studio Zecc Architecten.

The national monument was reportedly in a state of disrepair before it was purchased by a private client and Zecc in 2012, giving it a second life as an exclusive six-story residence, with three apartments and a commercial space on the ground floor.

“The challenge for this design lay in creating good daylight openings, a beautiful outdoor area with a view of the Dom and good access with a lift and safe stairwell,” wrote the firm.

About the Project

Described to have a “sturdy and industrial combined with homely and intimate” atmosphere, Zecc notes that the character of the brickwork and the wooden or concrete beams were preserved as much as possible in parts of the Amsterdamsestraatweg water tower.

The first to third floors include three identical studio apartments. Starting on the fourth floor, in the former water reservoir, is a house of 400 square meters across six floors. The bottom of the water tank, made of sheet steel with coarse rivets, is reportedly visible at the entrance to the elevator.

Moving upwards, there are guest rooms, relaxation areas and storage spaces. The seventh floor houses the master bedroom with a bathroom and dressing room, while the kitchen was built on the eighth floor.

However, Zecc describes the space on the ninth and final floor to be “overwhelming,” with high roof construction of steel and wood, panoramic windows have been made all around for a 360-degree view. This space includes the living room installed at a height so that you can see the horizon while sitting and have a view over the city. 

“The basis of the choice of materials was already present: the warm color and texture of the masonry, anthracite-colored steel frames, the rusted reservoir of nailed sheet steel and the light gray steel trusses of the roof construction,” writes Zecc.

“This has been supplemented with concrete floors, white interior walls and warm walnut accents (which match the rust color of the reservoir) in the floors, wall parts and in the furniture. In the loose interior, this palette is supplemented with natural and earthy colors, making the whole a tough but very homely whole.”

In the future, Zecc reports there are plans for a commercial function such as a coffee corner or barbershop to be built on the ground floor, making the tower accessible to the public. Additionally, compact homes and a built parking facility will be added on a vacant lot behind the tower.

Other Water Tower Homes

In 2016, the “So Cal Water Tower,” on the border of Seal Beach and Sunset Beach, was converted into a residential version of a historic water tank that existed on the same site decades prior. The site of the current water tower house originally housed a 75,000-gallon water tank that serviced steam engines in the 19th and early 20th century. By the late 1970s, it was no longer in use and had fallen into disrepair.

A developer bought the parcel of land in 1980 and rebuilt the tower as a house in order to preserve the look of the beloved landmark, but give it a new look. According to a TV feature on the house, the tank was removed and converted, and eventually lifted back to the top of the refurbished frame.

In 2019, the 1.5 million-pound ($1.9 million) Cromwell Tower, a water tower built in 1930 and decommissioned in 2004 and was converted into a home after being snapped up off the market for just 25,000 pounds ($31,000), was up for sale again in Warwickshire, England.

The home reportedly retains a number of original features, including the central spiral staircase, depth gauges and exposed stonework. Four floors total 7,535 square feet of space, with a 3,391-square-foot roof terrace covered in AstroTurf.

The first floor serves primarily as a space for socialization, equipped with a reception hall, games room, a self-contained guest suite, dining room and an open-plan kitchen that connects with a sitting room. From this space, floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open onto a terrace.

The second and third floors house bedrooms, but the fourth floor, which served as a tank room, has 3,200 square feet of space that is not currently being used.

In 2021, a historic, converted four-bedroom, four-bathroom water tower was on the market in Seal Beach, California, marked with a nearly $5 million price tag. Originally built in 1892 for the purpose of servicing steam engines traveling along the Pacific Coast, the home-converted tower stands 87 feet tall. In the 1940s the structure was rebuilt using Douglas fir and redwood. Until its retirement in 1975, the water tower was fully working and could hold up to 300 tons of water.

Converted into a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home, the 2,800-square-foot water tower beach house located boasts 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and San Gabriel Mountains, in addition to views of nearby Huntington Beach Pier and Disneyland from its top rotunda room.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Asia Pacific; Completed projects; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Historic Preservation; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Residential; Retrofits; Tanks; Tanks; Water Tanks; Z-Continents

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