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WWII water tower renovated into family abode

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April 18, 2012

Chateau D'eau by Belgian design studio Bham is a novel piece of architectural adaptation, ...

Chateau D'eau by Belgian design studio Bham is a novel piece of architectural adaptation, renovating a piece of World War II-era infrastructure into a very modern and desirable family home (Photo: Bham)

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Chateau D'eau by Belgian design studio Bham is a novel piece of architectural adaptation, renovating a piece of World War II-era infrastructure into a very modern and desirable family home.

According to Bham, construction on the 30-meter (100-foot) high water tower actually began in 1938, before the outbreak of war, though it was not completed until 1941. Construction was carried out for and by the village of Steenokkerzeel in Flanders, but was co-opted as a tour de guete (or watchtower) by the Nazis - though it isn't clear if the Nazis had a hand in finishing the construction. It's fitting, though, that a structure so benign in intent has been restored to a more peaceful purpose.

In use as a water tower until the 1990s, the building was subject to a request to the Belgian Royal committee for National Heritage Sites in 2004 to renovate the building, while also to preserve its fundamental structure. Renovation began in 2008, gradually converting the tower into a 6-story, 450-sq m (4,844-sq ft) home putting the space to maximum use.

Rather than shoehorning rooms into each floor, each level of the home has a single purpose, resulting in lovely large living spaces. Level zero (ground) has been put to use as a double garage with some room set aside for the house's entrance. Level one is devoted to all the dull necessities such as storage and utility rooms and plant. Things get more interesting at level two, which is a guest room (with dedicated bathroom) and office area. The main bathroom, with a 4.5 meter (14.8 ft) high shower as its dramatic centerpiece, takes up the entirety of level three. Level four is the master bedroom, five the living area (including kitchen and dining), while live six is host to a "panoramic terrace."

The interior planning is clear a balance of priorities, with the best of the views of the surrounding landscape given to the family living and sleeping quarters at upper levels.

Outside, work carried out was largely restorative, with the replacement of structure elements such as concrete columns and brick joints where damaged, though windows on the top floor were made bigger.

Source: Bham, via Architizer

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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4 Comments

Having to go up or down a couple of flights of stairs to go to the toilet is not what I´d call desirable and it´s probably in the middle of nowhere, but it´s a shame about the lack of photos. I´d like to have seen it none the less. I´d also rethink the use of the word "benign".

g.fosbery
18th April, 2012 @ 10:31 am PDT

That is a very creative use of the water tower. I think they did an excellent job.

BigWarpGuy
18th April, 2012 @ 06:37 pm PDT

@fosbery

You think climbing 1/2 flight to use the loo is a problem? I guess you haven't seen over 50 % of London houses where this is the rule.

pmshah
19th April, 2012 @ 09:59 pm PDT

Peoples fear of stairs has got to be one of the laziest attitudes I know of. Take the stairs and enjoy the satisfaction of maintaining your strength and health.

jonoxn
20th April, 2012 @ 05:42 am PDT
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