A boutique architect practice is creating a ‘grand design’ project of its own after being appointed to transform a redundant water tower into a state-of-the-art home.

Johnson Design Partnership has been commissioned by local businessman Vince Jones to prepare design planning documents and detailed drawings for the bespoke conversion of the landmark building on Netchwood Common, between the towns of Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Much Wenlock.

The approach is based on retaining the ‘look and feel’ of the 50ft water tower blended with ambitious design techniques that will eventually create a three-bedroom dwelling with lounge, dining, kitchen, bathroom and en-suite.

Using the height of the building, JDP will use interlocking ovals on each floor, an oval entrance hall and an orangery to ensure access to the views of the Shropshire countryside are maximised, including roof terrace and viewing study.

A full digital survey of the tower, structural report and ecology survey have all been completed and planning permission has been granted with the next stage being the preparation of detailed designs ready for building regulations and tender.

“This is definitely one of the most ambitious projects we’ve ever been involved in,” explained Vic Johnson, founding director of Johnson Design.

“The building is constructed of cast in-situ concrete, creating a monolithic structure which requires the retention of all supporting elements and a new structural skeletal steel frame to ensure stability following the re-development.”

“Naturally, the landmark nature of the tower means we have to ensure it remains sympathetic with the local countryside and we believe the designs and eco-improvements reflect this. I can see it creating a lot of interest both in Shropshire and across the rest of the UK.”

A lot of time has been taken to ensure the external look of the water tower is not greatly changed, with the removal of the roof, internal tanks and punctuations of the new windows the only differences to the original façade.

Use of lightweight cladding and glazing systems throughout and a single membrane roof material in curved form mimics the existing roof structure.

Internally, spaces are interlinked vertically by carefully planned voids and spaces, which create shafts of natural light and impressions of micro courtyards.

Vic continued: “Vince was very keen that we explored all of the latest eco-techniques and we’ve done this through careful material selection, passive solar and ventilation design.

“We’ve also explored all avenues of operational energy reduction and use of rainwater harvesting, ground source heat pumps, a small wind turbine, photovoltaic and solar thermal panels.

“All of this will translate into long-term savings, but more importantly a substantial reduction in carbon emissions.”

Vince Jones is the man behind the project, having been captivated by the Netchwood Tower from an early age when he used to cycle past it to keep fit and meet friends.

The Director of local business AV Birch moved quickly to buy the building for £85,000 at an auction in 2011 and expects to spend circa £500,000 on making the transformation a reality.

He will also utilise his own company’s manufacturing expertise by producing the steel work at his factory on the outskirts of Bridgnorth.

“I’ve always kept one eye on the water tower and believe we can create something that will be in keeping with the countryside, offers superb standards of living and creates a ‘grand design’ that will be of national interest.”

Vince went on to add: “We were looking for a local contemporary architect that bought into the vision and had been impressed by some of JDP’s work locally.

“I knew they were the right partners for the project and have been massively impressed with the striking design work and the fact we have already secured planning.”

It is anticipated work will take about twelve months to complete once started and there is opportunities to incorporate a garage at its base and make further improvements to the site access and landscaping.

On the back of this project, Johnson Design has recently been commissioned to undertake a second water tower development in the South East.

Located in the centre of woods just outside Harpenden, this building is slightly different with it being constructed from brick and timber as opposed to the more conventional concrete material.

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