250,000-Liter Home: 7-Story Water Tower-to-House Refab


Adaptive reuse often has to make the best of a bad situation, taking ill-shaped structures into workable residences … but in this case, the form of this 100-foot-tall Belgian water tower turned out to be the perfect basis for a brilliant seven-story house. Going … up?

Moving vertically through the home involves shifting from entry and functional spaces to living and dining areas and terminating in bedroom, shower and private relaxation zones that culminate in an extra-wide, 360-degree zone for enjoying lofted views of the sky and surrounding landscapes.

The first story contains a main entrance and two-car garage, below a second-story equipment, storage and HVAC zone. The third and fourth levels house guest, meeting and work spaces – the fifth features a master bedroom, with a spiral staircase that leads up ?kitchen, living and dining room areas. Finally, on the very top floor, there is a wrap-around terrace cantilevered out beyond the main structure (in the water-storage core).

Anyone else reminded of the infamous Panopticon here Bham Design Studio had to work with local preservation efforts, building codes and the needs of clients to maintain the integrity of the building while making it a useful dwelling. Somehow it still manages to look a good fit for the farmland-filled countryside around it.

Built to last, the original water tower was constructed nearly seven decades ago. The exterior was preserved as best it could be, with the limited introduction of well-scaled windows and respect for the existing concrete and brick on all sides. The interior, for better or worse, was made more modern in style – black and white dominate, but perhaps that works well after all since it provides such compelling contrast with the colorful window-framed environments outside.

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