London & South East

Grand Designs: water tower featured in 100th episode special

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Built in 1877 and located in South East London there lay an unkempt anachronism, a Victorian water tower without place in the modern world.

The tower had remained derelict for the last 40 years and would have continued falling into disrepair if it was not for Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce.

The pair decided to renovate the building and convert it into their dream home – the ambitious project began in February 2011 and was completed in October 2012. From derelict water tower to vibrant family home, the project’s journey was documented in the 100th episode of Channel 4’s Grand Designs.

ACR Architects 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 client’s personal needs and requirements.

To achieve the conversion from water tower to dream home several key changes to the original design were required. This included changing internal layouts, external finishes including anthracite grey aluminum cladding replacing the approved patinated copper cladding system and the introduction of 5.3m high full height sliding doors to the kitchen.

Furthermore, two new extensions were constructed the ‘link’ and the ‘cube’ provide additional habitable and circulation space.

The ‘link’ comprises the service core, lift shaft, utility room a water closet 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 and above the ‘cube’ is a 36m² roof terrace with an unobstructed of view of the London skyline from west to east.

The completed tower now comprises of seven 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. The third floor master bedroom is a mezzanine floor within a double height space with the dressing below and the prospect room with 360° views of London at the top.

Speaking about the project, ACR Director Mike Collier said:

“The existing water tower was in pretty poor condition, we had to strip everything back and repair it, conducting external remedial and restoration works and then carrying out an internal refurbishment. We had to work within the planning restrictions as the building was a listed building, but the end result is there for all to behold.”

ACR Architects is a small, young and vibrant design led practice based in west London, Mike Collier and Thashe Raidu-Collier started their practice in June 2009 and specialise, although not exclusively, in residential projects of varying sizes from private extensions and refurbishments to multi-million pound mixed use developments providing office and retail spaces with private and affordable housing. ACR offers a bespoke service ranging from planning and building regulations applications to a full architectural service, with each appointment being tailored to the specific needs of the client.

Project 1 Design and Build were the main contractors on the project and they ensured the build met the highest environmental standards by fitting rain water harvesting facilities, an air source heat pump and intelligent lighting.

A spokesperson for Project 1 said:

“Although we are proud of our flagship projects such as the Lambeth Water Tower, which featured on the 100th episode of Grand Designs, our core work remains as extensions and renovations and turning derelict Victorian houses into the best in the street.

“We have recently added small project teams for external works such as landscaping & driveways, or internal works such as widows, skylights, kitchens & bathrooms. All work is done to the same high quality, as a one stop shop where Project 1 will manage the entire process from end to end.”

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