Aqua vitae: water towers are getting a wash and brush-up

A 50m-tall water tower designed by V+ architects in the Belgian village of Ghlin
A 50m-tall water tower designed by V+ architects in the Belgian village of Ghlin
(Image credit: V+ architects in the Belgian village of Ghlin)

Water Tower, by V+
Architects V+ recently completed this 50m-tall water tower in the small Belgian village of Ghlin, near Mons. Having to negotiate placing a fairly large structure within a flat, natural landscape, the Belgian practice opted to keep the form simple, referencing a container that sits on concrete stilts. Four columns forming overlapping X and V shapes carry the structure’s weight and its 2,000 sq m water tank. An asymmetrically located staircase core leads up to the main platform, where the tank is concealed behind a metal mesh that helps the volume appear lighter.

Observation Point, by Zecc
There are many ways to reuse an old water tower when it’s no longer needed for the liquid stuff. Utrecht-based firm Zecc transformed one into a lookout point for a national park in the Dutch province of Overijssel.

Rainbow Tower, by Studio Original Designers 6R5
A symbol of Milan’s industrial heritage, the Rainbow Tower at Porta Garibaldi has had a recent revamp by Studio Original Designers 6R5. Clad in more than 100,000 colourful ceramic tiles, the old water tower-turned-symbolic-totem has reclaimed its place as the area’s key landmark.

As originally featured in the November 2015 edition of Wallpaper* (W*200)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).