WATER TOWER ROTTERDAM
C.B. VAN DER TAK (GEMEENTEWERKEN), 1871-1873, Watertorenweg 180, Rotterdam
Christinus Bonifacius van der Tak
Civil engineering works
Housing on Waterworks Site
The Rotterdam waterworks (DWL) were established in 1873 on Oude Plantage at the north end of Honingerdijk, far beyond the town limits of those days. Before then, Rotterdam's residents drew their drinking water from the filthy canals and moats with regular outbreaks of cholera as a result. W.N. Rose had already called for a more hygienic form of water management. In the new complex, designed by the Town Architect C.B. van der Tak, river water was purified in two large settling tanks and four smaller filter tanks. A 48 metre tall round water tower with a reservoir of 1000 m3 at the top, displays in its architecture a mix of Romanesque, Neo-Renaissance and Moorish styles. When the DWL moved out in 1977 the site was transformed into a residential area. Many of the existing buildings were retained and recycled, such as the water tower, which was appropriated in 1978 by the Utopia live-work community. This was the first step in the metamorphosis from industrial complex to residential area, whose layout is predicated on the pattern of the original filter tanks. The former pumping station has been refurbished as a community and shopping centre; the original filter houses have been recast as residential units for one to two persons. The original service channel has been transformed into a combined double-height corridor cum courtyard off which are the unit entrances. The dimensions of the units stem from those of the original filter tanks on which they stand. The result is an exemplary reuse project with a spatial quality hitherto unknown in dwelling types like these. The most central filter house was renovated in 1985 by its current occupant, Kraaijvanger Urbis.