WWII water tower renovated into family abode
April 18, 2012
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.