Chateau d’eau / Bham Design Studio

© Courtesy of

Architects: Bham Design Studio
Location: Steenokkerzeel, Belgium
Exterior Renovation & Structural Work:
Project Area: 450 sqm
Project Year: 2007-2008
Photographs: Jasmine Van Hevel, Mauro Brigham and Olivier Papegnies

The History

In a small terrain of 16m width by 20m long in the middle of a flat Belgian landscape, raises a 30m high water tower built between 1938 and 1941 for and by the village of Steenokkerzeel. It has been in service until the beginning of the nineties and was used by the Nazis during the 2nd world war as a “tour de guete”.

In 2004 a procedure was filled to protect and preserve the building witch the Royal commission for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites accepted.

© Courtesy of Bham Design Studio
elevations & section

The exterior of the tower was fully renovated to its initial state. Damaged concrete columns were repaired and painted, brick joints were completely removed and replaced and the windows in the floor top were enlarged.

The works for a complete renovation and conversion into a single family house started in 2007.

© Courtesy of Bham Design Studio

The Program

The program foresees two distinct profiles of users. The private and main user is the client, a couple living at the tower daily. Once or twice a month, part of the building is rented for very exclusive events targeting management people looking for a place to make workshops, high profile companies that seek a unique place to meet top clients near by the airport. Every room is equipped with the latest IT technology, domotics and the possibility to install projectors virtually anywhere on the top floor.

© Courtesy of Bham Design Studio

Interior Architecture

The preservation of existing concrete elements such as the main water conduct, concrete ceilings, concrete stairs and the 250.000 liters concrete water basin were essential to preserve the strong identity of the building.

Every visible concrete element inside was painted in dark grey in order to mark the old from the new. This choice works in both ways since it makes the contrast created makes both bright and dark stand out.

plan 01
plan 02
plan 03

0 – Main entrance & garage (2 cars)

1 – Technical room, storage and utility

2 – Guest room & office

An envelope inside the envelope. The combination of vertical and horizontal wengé surfaces delineates the guest’s bedroom area with its own bathroom.

3 – Bathroom

A central 4.5 meter high shower was created in the bathroom in order to maximize the water flow experience. Black tainted glass walls surround the walk in shower increasing the sense of intimacy.

© Courtesy of Bham Design Studio

Textile as visual separation from the cupboards was introduced to create a balance with the other “hard” materials and enhance the room’s acoustics.

4 – Bedroom

This circular room with a dome ceiling hosts a revolving stairs leading to the upper floor and a full monolithic mirror dressing witch reflects the surroundings and gradually disappears.

© Courtesy of Bham Design Studio

Wengé wood flooring contrasts with the cold nature of the mirror surfaces. Light reflection on the wood bounces providing warm reddish tones on the walls.

5 – Living room, kitchen and dining room

Impressive by its circular shape and large surface, the top floor affords some incredible vistas to the airplanes landing on the national airport just a quarter of a kilometer away.

The elevator block integrates a rest room, a library, the cat house and a cloak room.

© Courtesy of Bham Design Studio

Above the sculptural kitchen furniture, a steel bridge takes you to the terrace.

6 – Panoramic terrace

The terrace provides a full panoramic view and is equipped with raised IPE wood flooring and a shower.

Cite: "Chateau d’eau / Bham Design Studio" 05 Sep 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • up_today_arch

    Well done! Greate work! Very delicate and very up to date!

  • æon

    A totally new style of living, very original.

  • tDA

    too many great details to mention – nice work!