Tom Dixon’s Water Tower @ Ladbroke Grove

Tom Dixon’s Water Tower @ Ladbroke Grove

Tom surprised local London inhabitants in Ladbroke Grove with his ingenious townhouse design that has converted an old water tower into an apartment home that integrates into the borough skyline. .

Tom has owned the property and the surrounding area since 2005 and has painstakingly seen his dream home become a reality. This 60 foot tower houses a unique and interesting design and the townhouse has been under construction for 3 years and finally is completed


Standing at the top of Ladbroke Grove, the tower was built in the 1930’s to store 5,000 gallons of water to be used in case a huge gas structure nearby ever caught fire.

Original concept

Dixon enlisted longtime friend Peter Harris of design studio SUSD to come up with the plan, which adds 12m in height to the existing 18m structure.

“Tom is a big fan of brutalist structures and strong forms, and extruding the cylinder upwards is the purest way of dealing with it.”

The house was originally proposed to expand over nine storeys ( with a lift ) including four new levels, with two roof terraces. On the ground floor there was to be an exhibition space for Tom Dixon’s furniture, with the living rooms housed in an open-plan, double-height cube extension at first floor level. There were to be four bedrooms and a study in the upper levels of the cylinder with a lofty penthouse reception room.

“The planners really got the intention. Rather than short, fat and bland, they said let’s make a statement but quite a slender statement.

Planners in Kensington & Chelsea approved the conversion and extension of a dilapidated 1920s concrete water tower that Tom Dixon bought three years ago in his native Ladbroke Grove.

‘They wanted to keep the tower as a landmark structure to mark the entry to the borough. We received no objections from local residents.’

From the upper levels, Dixon enjoys views over Portobello, the landmark Trellick Tower and neighbouring Kensal Green cemetery.

Actual Project

Made of timber and different windows strategically placed to allow the most amount of natural light, this home is a townhouse that no one could have imagined in terms of design and is an architectural marvel in central London

First it was sectioned off into three storeys and clad with timber, then a dozen windows were cut into its walls.

At present, the living space comprises a kitchen, reception room and bathroom on the first floor, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second, and a 360-degree reception room on the third.

Two more storeys are still to be added. The roof terrace is already in place but during the next phase it will be removed, while the additional storeys are added, then reinstated at the top afterwards, creating 5,000sq ft of living space plus the terrace.

The levels are connected by spiral stairs. Access from the outside is provided by a steel staircase but a lift is to be fitted in the next stage of the development, linking the ground to the first storey.

Inside, the tower has been fitted out to meet the highest eco-friendly standards and a ‘heat exchange’ system using water pumped from the Grand Union Canal, which runs by the foot of the tower, is planned.

Stephen Holmes, of Savills, says: ‘A property such as this will attract a great deal of publicity although, because of its unique nature, it will appeal to fewer buyers than a similar-size house. The tower is not in an area considered a “destination address”, however, houses offering this much space within half a mile have fetched about £8million.’

Tom, 52, who is self-taught and was awarded an OBE for services to British design in 2000, does not intend to live in the property when it is finished.

‘Tom sees it as an exercise in design,’ says Peter Harris, of SUSD, the architects carrying out the work for Dixon.

‘He wants to create something using this great local landmark – to build a townhouse in the sky.’

The sheer engineering challenge of constructing a house suspended in the air in what is a utilities nerve centre, says Harris, has provided the biggest headaches.

Large concrete supports were needed to protect it against the wind, and cutting into the sections of the water tank’s concrete to fit the prefabricated timber cladding and interior structure was a delicate process.

The three storeys host multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a reception area on the top floor. All areas are connected by a spiral staircase.

Eventually the townhouse aims to be 5 storeys in height, with the inclusion of a roof terrace with one of the most magical views. This design in total will provide a family with 5000 Square feet of space, ample to enjoy the marvel of the London from the multiple levels, windows and bedrooms.

Not including the purchase price of the land and the tower, the project has so far cost £400,000. The final phase of the construction will add a further £400,000. When completed estate agents are already rating it in the value of over 4 million pounds. Estate agents have stated that similar trends were seen in other areas of London, where a single design change that differs from the norm raises the values surrounding, much like a trend seen in Marylebone homes in the last decade

So what kind of living experience will it provide?

‘There is a certain sense of isolation with the supermarket and its car park below,’ says Harris, ‘but it’s surprisingly quiet up there.

‘It’s not for vertigo sufferers, though. In a narrow structure like this – the diameter of the house is 25ft – you really feel it.

Tom states that the townhouse design may be a touch isolated next to the supermarket carpark, but has an amazing sense of tranquillity above the bustle of central London.

Even after its external makeover, the tower – next to Sainsbury’s in Ladbroke Grove – is not exactly a classical beauty.

But for anyone inside looking out, it offers some of the best views in the capital

‘But although you may feel detached from the city, you’ll never have far to walk if you need to pop out for a pint of milk.

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