The 5-story tower is one of several hundred surviving water towers built in the mid-to-late 19th century to improve public health in towns, villages, and hospitals across Britain. The Harrises and architect Julian Baker, from Ellis Williams, could see the potential for turning the tower into a ‘domestic study in minimalism’ right from the start.
“The nature of these buildings demands the most imaginative architectural solutions to the obvious problems they pose: how to make use of a building that has a small footprint but is five or more stories high, with walls many feet thick,” comments Russell Harris.
The Harris family has solved the problem of the narrow tower by dedicating it to bedroom space, and has built a wrap-around glass-fronted ground floor for the kitchen and living quarters. The house and tower are a study in minimalism with white flooring, a white Poggenpohl kitchen (designed to accommodate every appliance behind handle-less doors) and the state-of-the-art Lutron HomeWorks whole-house light control system used to minimize the need for wall switches.
Rather than combining keypads with wall control panels, all of the HomeWorks system is triggered by the master keypad and infrared sensors placed strategically around the home. This enables lights to be turned on only in rooms that detect movement, as well as ensuring that the walls keep their minimalist feel.
The Lutron HomeWorks lighting system constantly monitors and records the state of all devices in the house and tower. The powerful HomeWorks processor is the center of the system and communicates with keypads, dimmers, switches, preset scene controls, and central dimming and switching modules to operate lights, relays, motors, and other remote-controlled devices.
Only now, following years of loving rebuilding work, can the beauty of the Lymm Water Tower truly be seen. With the couple’s motto above the door: Ad Astra Per Aspera – to the stars through difficulty – the tower is one of the most astonishing private houses in the country and has received various awards, including the prestigious Lighting Design Award for its innovative approach to lighting design.