Nestled behind a hedge at the top of a typical residential street in Brisbane, Australia, a large water tower has gone domestic. Faced with obsolescence, the 1940s cylindrical concrete tower in the Brisbane suburb of Balmoral has been converted into a unique residence by Riddel Architecture. The house features a doughnut plan with rooms arranged around a central atrium. Adaptive reuse prevailed over demolition of the Balmoral Water Reservoir as the heavily reinforced concrete walls would have been too difficult to remove.
These concrete reservoirs once used to store rainwater for the local water supply are common around Brisbane and were built to last. Walls at the base of the structure reach a depth of nearly three feet which offers an abundance of insulation from thermal mass, keeping the interior cool. Openings were punctured into the top of the 39′ tower for a new entrance and a large internal courtyard.
Interior spaces are arranged circularly around a central column and overlook a grand interior courtyard. Existing concrete walls and original fixtures remain visible in the residence and galvanized corrugated steel clads new elements. A large deck separates the public and private spaces in the home.
With a diameter of 72′, the Balmoral Water Reservoir has plenty of space to spare and captures the neighborhood’s Gaelic name meaning “majestic castle.” Lofty ceilings run through the house and circular forms reinforce the tower’s form, demonstrating how adaptive reuse can creatively transform challenging unused buildings into inspiring visions for the future.