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PAD Studio updates water tower conversion in New Forest

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A series of contemporary additions has updated this neglected 20th-century structure

Located within the New Forest, Hampshire, this four-storey water tower was first constructed in the early 1900s to gravity feed water to the adjacent Fritham House. The attached cottage housed the diesel generators which pumped water up to the top of the tower for storage.

The tower was in a poor state of repair with a number of single-glazed timber and metal-framed windows, which had deteriorated to the point of leaking. PAD Studio’s refurbishment stripped the existing furnishing and decor to back to the water tower’s historic fabric, before making a number of interventions, including a large protruding window and steel staircase. 


Architect’s view

The large new window acts like a camera lens, puncturing the building at first floor level, focusing one’s view out to the garden and beyond. A window seat is also formed creating a space to sit, soaking up light and prospect.

A new sculptural steel stair was designed as an industrial feature in the day room, rising up through the double-height space to the bathroom on the fourth floor. Elsewhere, new minimally framed Crittall windows were designed and installed to maximise natural light and improve the building’s thermal performance. 

As part of the renovation, a carefully selected palette of materials complements the existing brick, allowing the original architecture to be clearly expressed against the new additions. Furthermore, extensive cleaning was undertaken to refresh the external walls and bring back the original brick colour.

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Client’s view

The tower had been turned into a residential property some time ago, but it was very tired, the heating was inadequate, and the interiors weren’t up to modern standards. Around a third of our living space is in the tower, so we wanted to put a lot of time and effort into the project.

We had in mind a new entrance that would make a good, strong impression – the existing windows had great views, but they had heavy frames that cut out a lot of light, so we wanted to replace them.

We probably spend more time outside than in but when we’re looking to unwind, it’s a lovely place. I didn’t think it warranted being turned into something ‘chi-chi.’ It’s a classic example of ‘less is more’.

Sheryl Wilson, owner

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Project data

Start on site 
September 2015
April 2016
Gross internal floor area 58m²
Form of contract or procurement route Construction management
Construction cost £178,000
Construction cost per m² £3,069
PAD Studio
Client Private
Structural engineer Built Engineers
Quantity surveyor / cost consultant APS Associates
CDM coordinator
Main contractor Rice Projects 
CAD software used 

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