Cousins Turn Old Water Tower They Used to Play In as Kids Into Cozy Family Home

Two cousins from the Dutch town of Nieuw-Lekkerland recently received an award for turning an old water tower into a modern and stylish home for their respective families.

Sven and Lennart de Jong grew up in a house right next to the old water tower of Nieuw-Lekkerland, and used to paly in it as kids, so in 2011, when they heard it was being put up for auction, they decided to place a bid. The approximately 200,000 euros they bid proved to be enough and the two became the owners of an abandoned building from 1915. Sven and Lennart knew that they had their work cut out, but they dreamt of making the water tower their home in a decade’s time, and managed to pull it off. For their achievement, the two received the 2020 Water Tower Award, a distinction for the best conversion of a historic water tower.

The two cousins weren’t married when they bought the old water tower, but they knew that’s where they wanted to raise their kids. When they met their spouses, they revealed their intentions and were lucky to receive all the necessary support. After work, they would work late into the night to convert the old structure into a proper living space for two families, as quickly as possible.


Lennart and his wife Arianne decided to move into the tower as soon as she became pregnant, and they met their goal, but only just. Two weeks before their daughter was supposed to be born, the couple decided to move into their new home, on the third floor of the tower. Only climbing up the long staircases wasn’t ideal for the heavily pregnant Arianne, so they rented a cherry picker and lifted her to the window of her new home. Their daughter, Koosje, was born later that day, two weeks before the due date.


Today, the interior of the water tower is completely transformed, featuring a combination of industrial, robust elements with a rural and natural touch, but the two cousins had to do everything from scratch, including the plumbing and electrical wiring. It was worth all the work though, as the two families now live in one of the coolest homes in the Netherlands.


The large, floor-to-ceiling windows let a lot of light in, and offer splendid views of Nieuw-Lekkerland on one side, and a picturesque Dutch polder landscape with many windmills, on the other.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Insomarch (@insomarch)

The two homes take up the three original floors of the water tower (each 6-meters-tall), which have since been converted into five smaller floors. Each family has two floors to themselves, and a common garden room on the ground floor. But there is plenty of room to expand.


The water tank itself, which sits at the top of the tower, has yet to be converted and is big enough to become a third home. Not to mention the flat roof, which the two cousins plan to turn into a beautiful terrace. But even in its current condition, the water tower home was impressive enough to win the 2020 Water Tower Award.

“The basis of the successful redevelopment is formed by the extremely powerful design by Ruud Visser and Fumi Hoshino of RV Architectuur,” the jury wrote. “Large storey-high windows with a view over the river Lek and the polder contribute to the quality of the spaces in the tower and fit in seamlessly with the robust appearance. It is particularly refreshing to see that an inspiring re-use can be realized in an economical way. The architects’ motto during the design process was: ‘Don’t turn a water tower into a house, but live in a water tower’. And that is exactly the strength of this redevelopment!”