Feeling flush?East London water tank converted into quirky £550k penthouse

The water tank on top of Grade-II listed Keeling House has been converted into a very unique one-bedroom flat, that's now for sale for the first time. 

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A disused water tank has been converted into a one-bedroom penthouse flat on one of Bethnal Green's iconic residential tower blocks.

The one-bedroom duplex on top of Keeling House was finished in May last year and is being sold for the first-time, with an asking price of £550,000 on The Modern House.

The unique flat has a modern functionalist, warehouse-style aesthetic that architect and owner Brian Heron says is "likely to have the Marmite effect — you either love it or you don't".

Brian and wife Ayesha, who also studied architecture and is now a documentary producer, purposely designed the property in this way.

Heron says: "We didn't want a bog-standard developer flat with white walls and wooden floors. We also wanted to stay true to its industrial origins."


THREE TIMES A CHARM

Originally a council-owned block, iconic Keeling House is a Grade II-listed building that was designed by respected Modernist architect Denys Lasdun in 1954. It was sold to a developer in 1999 who did an award-winning renovation. Now all of the flats are privately owned.

The Herons were tenants in one of the flats and Brian was scouring for self-build plots in east London when he saw the Water Tower for sale with planning permission at auction.

The couple were gazumped twice, but eventually managed to buy the empty concrete shell with plywood sides through an estate agent in 2009 for £77,000 — £20,000 more than it had sold for at auction the previous year.

"I think the buyers didn't realise how much work would be involved, it needed a naïve architect like me to take the project on," says Heron.

With only six months left on the planning permission Heron applied for an extension, which took a year and a half to come through. He then had to finalise plans and find a builder, so work didn't start until February 2014.

The couple budgeted £250,000 for the build, but due to the complications that come with building on top of a tower block — including needing 18 floors of scaffolding and closing roads three times so mobile cranes could put in glass reinforced concrete panels - costs swiftly ran up to £400,000.

"It was real Grand Designs stuff," says Brian. "I would have loved to do it cheaper, but I learnt a lot and it was very much a labour of love."

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Architect Brian Heron with wife Ayesha at their duplex penthouse, converted from a water tank. (Clippings.com)

UNIQUE SPACE-SAVING DESIGN

The 653sq ft space has been cleverly configured, with an open plan living-room and kitchen area on the 17th floor, and a child's bed located underneath the double bed in the only bedroom on the 18th floor.

Due to this, the home would suit a couple with a small baby, or hoping to start a family, but inevitably has an expiry date for growing families. The couple are planning to move to the Kentish seaside with their three-year-old son, Idris.

The walls and ceiling are constructed from Oriented Strand Board (OSB) — panels made from layers of wood flakes compressed and glued together, which remains proudly on display. The floors are polished concrete and all pipe work is intentionally uncovered.

The flat offers enviable views across London, with sunrises from the bedroom, sunsets from the bathroom and star-gazing from the skylight.

Privacy screens have also been installed on the 17th and 18th floors so that the owners of these flats are not overlooked by the penthouse terrace.

The family moved in last May and lived out of boxes so they could get a feel for the space before finishing the flat off with in-built storage.

They were nervous before putting it on the market and thought they may have received more viewings if they had played it safer with the design.

However, their first open house brought in 11 prospective buyers, last Sunday. "The people that have come in have been really sold, which is fantastic," says Heron.


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