Residential Reservoir: Huge Water Tower-to-House Remodel


It is the perfect adaptive reuse project, with all of the best elements already built in: a hilltop location (originally to allow easy water flow from the site) with sparse Australian vegetation allowing for maximum views, a building constructed to withstand incredible pressures without springing a single leak and all sold for a song by the local city council since the county had no more use for it.

The sheer mass of this structure is astonishing: the cylinder is over sixty feet in diameter with an interior that is nearly four stories tall, rounded out by reinforced concrete walls that measure about three feet thick. In fact, demolishing the structure would almost certainly have cost more than rebuilding around it or remodeling it into a working home, as Riddel Architecture chose to do for a local client.

The design solution makes the most of both the existing open-plan layout and shelter of the massive cylindrical form; bedrooms, bathrooms and other private areas are lofted inside, suspended from the sides toward the top with views out to the rest of the larger interior space. Giant openings were sliced from the sides of the cylinder below to allow for views, light and air. The remaining void after adding rooms is still huge, and skylights where the tank were let in additional hints of nature from above.

Corrugated steel was chosen both for being cheap and appropriately industrial to the space, offset by wood railings, flooring and furniture that bring some domestic warmth back to the place – particularly in the common areas that sit around the circumference and face out to the surrounding landscape. Who would want to start from scratch when you could begin with such a brilliant (if a bit industrial) building?

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