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Water Tanks Spring New Lives as a House and a Cafe

By Jasmine Van Hevel

Now we have seen recycled materials used to erect a building, and we have seen buildings that were repurposed.  I guess we associate springs with new life, but have you seen a water tank become a living space?  Well that’s exactly what a businessman in Steenokkerzeel in Belgium and officials of the University of the Philippines thought when they saw unusable water tanks in their respective areas and turned them into house and a cafe, respectively.

by Jasmine Van Hevel

The first water tank, now a home, is found in the Belgian village of Steenokkerzeel.  The water tower was built just before World War II, during which it doubled as a watchtower, and was in service until the 1990s.  Patrick Mets, a businessman then bought the structure and asked a design firm to turn it into his home.  The home also doubles as a meetings venue since it’s located near an airport.  The exterior looks cool as water towers can be but the interior is ultra slick and modern and takes advantage of some of the structure’s elements, as can be seen at left.

Another water tank that was repurposed can be found in the Philippines.  Officials at the University of the Philippines’ Los Baños converted an underutilized part of the campus grounds into a park.  At one corner of the park was an old irrigation water tank that was probably built in the 1920s as part of the Animal Science Complex there.

Water tank turned into a cafe in University of the Philippines Los Baños

That presented a problem for the campus development staff.  Since the concrete structure was designed to hold thousands of liters of water, the foundation and walls were thick, and therefore difficult to dismantle.  However, since people were bound to look for refreshments after a stroll in the park amidst tropical weather, it was decided to convert it into a cafe.  There were still some finishing details to be performed, last time we looked, but it does look inviting.

With the prices of construction materials and labor shooting up, not to mention the carbon emitted when dismantling old structures and constructing new ones, it makes perfect sense to try to imagine new ways of using old structures.  Extending the life of old structures by finding other uses for them not only gives them new life, it also helps life on Mother Earth.

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