Compiled by Team IAnD Photography: Stijn Poelstra; Courtesy Zecc Architecten BV |
The transformation of an old water tower into a spectacular architectural structure - the watchtower, now offers a 360 degree view of De Wieden in the Dutch province of Overijssel...
Situated in the middle of a protected nature reserve owned by Nature Monuments, this is the story of a flight of stairs that lead you up to a height of 45 m, where through four expansive windows, a panoramic view of the scenic landscape unfolds, enthrals and holds you captive.
Designed by Zecc Architects, the journey upstairs begins with a closed staircase that leads to the first floor at a 4 m. height. Here, you have arrived in a room that is 24 m. in height and houses a spectacle of old and new stairs.
The new stairs made of wood add warmth that directly contrasts with the stark concrete walls of the tower; metaphorically averring to the client - Nature Monuments - by using a raw and unpolished natural material.
By adding the new route complementary to the old existing one, spatial interaction is created. Where the old stairs led up alongside the walls, the new stairs zigzag across the tower to reinforce spatial perception.
The new stairs lead up to the level of the floor just below the immense concrete reservoir at 28 m. height. From this level, where the original stairs went up through a tight space alongside the exterior of the tank, now a steel winding staircase departs from the floor below the reservoir and goes right through to the bottom of the empty tank. They slowly wind up alongside the walls and intensify the spatial perception of the reservoir, the heart of the tower. You feel feeble as a visitor as you comprehend the import of the huge quantity of water that used to provide water pressure for the entire region.
As you reach the top of the tower, you arrive at the lookout post. The ‘lid’ of the tank has been partly removed in order to create steps to offer more of an overview for groups at the look-out post. The transparent raster floor makes you imagine yourself to be right in the middle of the tank. Alongside the four small existing windows, four large ones have been added that complete the view of De Wieden. Your intrigue turns to unabashed excitement as you soak in the view.
“Repurposing the water tower was an intensive task. Not in the least because of the procedural actions due to changing the zoning plan or eradicating any objections or doubts from the inhabitants of the surroundings, who often view the tower as their communal property; but because the water tower is a national monument, which made alterations to the exterior and interfering with the reservoir a difficult point. The strength of this plan lies in a combination of extreme restraint on the exterior and an architectural statement on the inside of the tower,” conclude the architects.
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