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Wrocław is renowned for the rich variety of its
industrial architecture, dating back to the end of
19th century and the beginning of 20th century. One of
the finest examples is the water tower located in Al.
Wisniowa, which evokes strong emotions among
architects, art historians and, most of all, the
townpeople. The historic water tower has recently assumed a new role. This monument of Polish industrial
architecture has been renovated and transformed into a
modern conference and leisure centre.
Industrial high points
Water towers have been constructed since the 19th
century as utilitarian buildings. They performed the
function of storage tanks, where water was collected and
subsequently distributed in the vicinity via the water-pipe
network. Although water towers all had the same function
and worked in the same way, they exhibit different
architectural styles, which even now surprise architects
and art historians alike. Typical examples were combined
water and observation towers, which were usually built in
the centre of towns.
Functional perspectives
The Wrocław tower, which stands 57 metres tall, was
and was not only a water storage tank but also an
observation point. There was once a turret on the top of the building with
an observation point, from which the Wrocław panorama could be
One of the most characteristic features of the
admired. Visitors wishing to take advantage of the view were taken up to
building is its octagonal roof. This has a surface
the turret by a special lift.
area of around 405 m2 and is capped by a
square, sharply pointed turret-lighthouse, stands
Neo gothic aesthetics
out from the background of neighbouring
buildings. During the Second World War, the
An outstanding Wrocław architect, Karl Klimm, created this huge brick
building was not badly damaged and its original
construction, which he modelled on medieval German fortresses. At the
roof had remained untouched for many years.
base, he placed tied dwellings and supported the tank on nine solid
pillars. The architect paid special attention to aesthetics and originality.
Plain clay tiles from the outset
Openwork, unique construction as well numerous ornaments (including
reliefs showing aquatic creatures) all testify to Klimm’s concern that the
When the necessary renovation of the roof was
building should have an artistic look.
undertaken, Architect Bieniasz Nicholson remained
faithful to the original design and used plain
From tank to fitness club
Koramic Biber tiles. "There were no doubts about
using plain tiles. Because this type of tile had
The Wroclaw water tower fulfilled its primary role until 1985.
covered the tower’s roof from the very beginning,"
A year later, the building was bought by a German investor with the
explains Architect Piotr Tomasz Rogowski from the
intention of carrying out comprehensive repairs and renovation. It was
'Bieniasz Nicholson Architekt' office.
to be transformed into a modern fitness club, restaurant, and conference
Natural red was chosen because the colour
centre. Architect Waclaw Bieniasz Nicholson, from the office Bieniasz
perfectly matched the brick and ceramic façade.
Nicholson Architekt (Wrocław), was the author of the building renovation
During the project execution, other elements
and conversion project. He provided for seven internal storeys, with
of Koramic systems were used in addition to
a total useable area of approximately 1,800 m2. This space had become
standard tiles, including ridges, eaves and gable
available after dismantling and removal of the water tank.
tiles as well as non-ceramic accessories.
Octagon and lighthouse
Project: Renovation and conversion of the water tower in Al.
Wisniowa, Wrocław. (Poland)
Client: Stephan Elektronik Investment
Architect: Wacław Bieniasz Nicholson, Bieniasz Nicholson
Architekt, Wrocław
Roof tile: Koramic Kunice Beaver tile, natural red