Domesticating a WWII Concrete Relic
April 16, 2012
What remains of the Nazi Europe? Mostly reinforced concrete towers and bunkers, whose immense size and incredibly thick walls proved difficult, even impractical, of destroying. In the 70 years or so since their construction, the structures, usually scattered along the beach or stranded in fields, have cultivated an aesthetic aura that continues to intensify as the generational gap and cultural gulf between the war and contemporary life widens. In France, for example, families in coastal towns near the Atlantic Wall have integrated some of the local bunkers into opulent single family homes. Similarly, in Belgium, architects Bham Design Studio have rehabilitated another Nazi infrastructural relic for domestic life, in what we think is a much more successful, if spurious, effort.
Built between 1938 and 1941 near the village of Steenokkerzeel , the 30-meter tall structure functioned as a water tower–briefly used by the Nazis–up until the 90s, when it was decommissioned and preserved as a war monument. The exterior was completely restored to its original condition, while the interior was completely guttered, save for the concrete ceilings, stairs, and other elements which were left intact, repainted, and repaired where needed. The windows on the top floor were widened to accommodate a “sculptural” kitchen, library, cat house, and general living space. A steel bridge connects this floor to a rooftop panoramic terrace that offers expansive views of the region. The house was designed for two permanent residents, while a guest room on the second level may be rented throughout the month. Click through for more images!