The St. Jansklooster Watchtower offers spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding De Wieden nature preserve in The Netherlands. Formerly a water tower that stored water and provided water pressure for the area, the historic structure was considered a national treasure and its exterior could not be altered. To make it accessible for all, Zecc Architects added a geometric, wooden staircase inside the tower to give visitors access to the inner workings and a path to the panoramic views up top.
The St. Jansklooster Tower is considered a national monument and a landmark for the region that can be seen for miles around. After its decommissioning, the decision was made to open the water tower up to the public and increase its utility rather than tearing it down. As it is historic though, no changes could be made to the exterior, only the interior.
Zecc Architects’ solution was to give visitors an intimate experience inside while traveling up to the look out post at the top. Visitors enter at the bottom and move upwards via the new wooden staircase, designed to serve as a warm contrast to the stark concrete walls. The new route zig zags up the center and complements the older metal staircase that hugs the wall. Visitors travel up 45 meters and pass through the various levels of the tower, including the actual water holding tank. Once on top, visitors can enjoy the views out of eight windows, four large and four small, that look out on to De Wieden.
Images ©Stijn Poelstra