Kennington Water Tower

By acr architects, Woodhall Planning & Conservation Ltd. and Fowler & Hill

Your own personal stairmaster.


If you’ve ever wanted to live in your own personal apartment tower, you could do worse than the converted Kennington Water Tower. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but beyond some of the phenomenal aspects of this repurposed and Grade-II listed monstrosity there are a few quirks and reservations.

The fifth-floor master suite has its own dressing room and ensuite bath, accessible by an enclosed, private staircase. But that leaves another rather large full bathroom on the fifth floor  seeming to serving no other purpose than to fill the space you pass on your way from the lift (and then two flights up) to that master suite. Actually, this serves as the prime bath facility for the bedrooms on the sixth and seventh floors and for the top-level ‘prospect’ room – each of these journeys traversing multiple flights of stairs. With the fifth floor serving as the upper elevator terminus, it’s all stairs for the next four floors. Of five bedrooms there’s only one with an ensuite on the same level.

There is eco-value is keeping untold tons of Victorian bricks and mortar out of landfills but, from an energy perspective, it appears that more project dollars were directed towards style than solar.  This project should have  incorporated more leading edge energy technologies in the process. It is a pile of bricks, but it deserves to be a greener pile of bricks, and planning restrictions that might force some inconvenient compromises for space and visual design needn’t also compromise elements of energy design.

While towering some 100 feet vertically, Kennington is actually rather small in overall size, presenting roughly 4,200 square feet layered high over the basic footprint of a small-ish bungalow and spread inconveniently over eight roughly 12×11-foot rooms.  The quirkiness of these and other shortcomings might be forgiven when you reflect on the prime living areas being substantial, unique and inviting spaces.

It is significant that the architectural history of the tower itself has been preserved without using public funds to create a vertical waterpark/faux tourist attraction but ultimately, it’s the views that make this a contemporary conversion worth noting. From the top of the tower they provide unique horizons across 360-degrees of London – remarkable for a private residence. Even from the bedrooms, baths and stairwells the vistas are significant. The views from inside those gargantuan glass sliders and from the 20×20-foot third-floor terrace add to this draw.  With the immediate neighbours low-rise and mainlyrecently built, the sightlines should be clear for the next generation or two.

Grand Designs / Hard SellWhat future for Kennington Water Tower?  –  Like several of the properties featured on Channel 4’s “Grand Designs”, Kennington Water Tower has been placed on the market – and suffered the Grand Designs ‘curse’ of being a tough sell. At the time of publication the listing has either sold or been retired. Whatever the case, the quirkiness and the intrinsic quality of the tower will be leading draws for prospective purchasers against other more ‘natural’ residences that haven’t led a previous life as an industrial service.

 

Kennington Water Tower
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Kennington Water Tower 51.492586, -0.104688 Kennington Water Tower

 


Original Street View Date: June 2012

 

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Property Location

Kennington, Greater London, England, UK
Image 28


 

Kennington Water Tower

From the architect: acr architects (verbatim) [Design/Build]

built in 1877, the grade II listed water tower was purchased by our clients with planning approval, as obtained by Woodhall Planning and Conservation, to convert to a single family home

acr were appointed and entrusted to take the project from the design stage through to completion and in the process tailoring the design to meet the clients, Leigh Osborne & Graham Voce’s personal needs & requirements and providing them with their dream home | this required several key changes to the original design including internal layouts; external finishes including anthracite grey aluminium cladding replacing the approved patinated copper cladding system; the introduction of 5.3m high full height sliding doors to the kitchen; living & dining areas of the ‘cube’ extension; and most significantly the retention of the original cast iron water tank which tops the building with the inclusion of frameless tinted glazed units offering 360° views of London

the tower itself comprises of 7 floor levels leading off the retained original stone staircase, starting with its own self-contained plant room in the basement; followed by a gymnasium and then five bedrooms on top of each other with the third floor master bedroom being a mezzanine floor within a double height space with the dressing below and the prospect room with 360° views of London at the top | two new extensions, the ‘link’ & the ‘cube’ then provide the additional habitable & circulation spaces to complete the dwelling | the ‘link’ comprises the service core, lift shaft , utility room a wc and four bathrooms all of which are connected to the existing tower via a glazed curtain wall system | the ‘cube’ extension offers double height kitchen/dining and living spaces which overhang the ground floor garage | above the ‘cube’ is a 36m² roof terrace with an unobstructed of view of the London skyline from west to east

Featured on the special 100th episode of Grand Designs Season 12, Episode 5

 

Kennington Water Tower

From the architect: Woodhall Planning and Conservation Ltd [Design/Planning]

The water tower is situated in the grounds of the former Lambeth Hospital and is within the Renfrew Road Conservation Area. Planning permission for its conversion and extension to form a single house had been granted but, the water tower was then added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest at Grade II.

Woodhall was appointed to obtain planning permission and listed building consent for the conversion and extension of the water tower. An initial analysis of the previous proposal identified a number of aspects that did not respect the special architectural and historic interest of the building. Following discussions with the Council, Woodhall retained the stone cantilevered staircase whilst the former water tank at the top was converted into a ‘Prospect Room’. To retain the solid appearance of the cast-iron water tank a proportion of the glazing was proposed to be overclad with a metal screen perforated to provide varying levels of transparency.

Original Engineering by  Fowler & Hill [1867]

 

416.54 m^2 / 4484 ft^2 (including garage)
Purchase price (2009): £380K
Build price: £2m
Listed, April 2013: £6.5m
Price, August 2013: £4.75m
Build 1877, rebuild 2011
Height: 30m / 100 ft|
Wall thickness: 1.8m / 6ft
Water tank capacity: 38,000 gallons

Additional Media:

Channel4.com scrapbook
Grand Designs 4oD

Youtube: brief (1:50)

Youtube: full episode (46:54)

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