Grand Designs: The Water Tower

In last nights Grand Designs (Channel 4 9.00pm) the excellent Kevin McLoud presented the unusual story of a project to refurbish and use a turn of the century Lutyens designed concrete water tower into a home.

The original building, on land owned by the occupiers of an rural cottage, was not attractive.   The thought of turning into a home seemed fanciful.   The owners felt very protective towards it and having sold their house decided to try and find a way to live in this huge, concrete monster. They moved into two caravans on site, one for them and one for their four dogs, until the water tower was converted.

Original water tower

The planners were open to persuasion so they approached an architect who came up with a bold, uncompromising extension in metal, glass and concrete.  The owners were keen to keep the original structure visible so the new house is threaded between the legs of the water tower.   This particular aspect of the design works very well.   The additions are obvious, but allow the orginal structure to be clearly visible in concrete as a contrast to the steel and zinc finished addtions.

The main living area rises out of the ground on steel stilts, matching the tower’s skinny concrete posts. The walls are built out of insulated steel panels, clad in either weathered zinc or patinated copper and there’s a glass bubble in the roof to let in extra light. Full height windows can be opened like doors to create the feeling of standing on a balcony.

A new staircase runs through a glass stairwell up the outside of the tower leading to the bedrooms. New windows have been cut into the concrete tower to give fantastic view over the surrounding countryside. The crowning glory is the master bedroom suite at the top of the water tower which will have stunning views in all directions.


The final result is stunning as they have created an incredible home and saved what is probably one of the earliest concrete structures in England from a less happy fate..  Full details and images are here.


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