Aquatic Architecture Without the Water: A Water Tower Home

Water Tower House

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What is a necessary component in every piece of aquatic architecture?

Or is it?

The Australia-based group Riddel Architecture has given a serious makeover to an obsolete water tower in Brisbane, transforming the once-useless tower into a trendy modern home.

Water Tower House Interior

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A cylindrical concrete tower usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word “comfortable,” but the group has actually done a rather impressive job of overhauling this water tower. In fact, I would even go so far as to call the home cozy! The rooms are spacious, the tall windows let in tons of natural light, and the architects even carved out a huge chunk of the concrete wall to make room for a porch.

Plus, the water tower has a couple of other neat benefits. The thick concrete walls descend three feet into the earth, which will ensure that the residents won’t have to throw away money on heating and cooling bills. The massive structure also leaves enough room for an internal courtyard and wide open rooms. It’s a very green living space altogether. It simultaneously saves on electricity bills while promoting the idea of recycling old, useless structures.

Water Tower Home Deck

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Obviously, the main reason why I’m interested in the building is how it invokes the aesthetic of water. You don’t necessarily have to have H2O in order to make viewers think about water. In much the same way that sand could represent the beach or how potted plants could call to mind images of the forest, the use of a water tower in architecture reminds viewers of the beauty of flowing water.

It kind of reminds me of the so-called BIG pier design for Petersburg, Florida. Does the wave-shaped building incorporate water into its design? No, not really — except to say that it’s on a pier and there is water nearby. But does it make the viewer immediately think about water? Absolutely. With the right architectural choices, you can uses concrete, steel, or wood to invoke the serenity and coolness of water.

Water Tower Home in Australia

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One of the easiest ways to pull off this effect is to replicate the appearance of water, such as by using reflective metal surfaces or by copying the undulating shapes of a wave. Riddel Architecture’s unique strategy is to approach water from a utility standpoint by playing with architectural forms that are commonly associated with water.

It’s certainly innovative, but is it beautiful? That one is for you to decide.


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