Saturday, 8 May 2010

Dutch Water Towers

From 1856 onwards about 260 water towers were built throughout The Netherlands. Of the 175 still remaining few are still in use for the regulation of the drinking water mains (towers in Amsterdam and Utrecht still being in use). The introduction of hydraulic engineering in the 1950’s being the main cause.

Each tower is unique in its design; influenced by a different architectural period, this diversity is not often seen in other parts of the world. Contrasting with the Dutch landscape they are the visiting card of each city.

The first water tower in The Netherlands was commissioned by Willem III in 1680 in order to create sufficient water pressure for the fountain in the grounds of the palace Soestdijk (The former palace of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard). Other early water towers were built to supply the steam locomotives of the railway. Less imposing than their drinking water cousins, none of these still exist today.

The height of the water towers varies from 35-60 metres. The water reservoir held enough water to keep a constant pressure on the waters mains and acted as a buffer supply on demand.  

As the numbers of water towers in use declines, these characteristic landmarks become protected monuments often with other functions. The oldest water tower in The Netherlands can be found in Rotterdam. The tower is a mix of Neo Romanesque, Neo Renaissance and Moors construction styles. In its day it had a water reservoir capacity of one million litres. Out of commission since 1977 and a protected monument, it now houses seven apartments, office space, and a cafĂ©/restaurant! An equally impressive water tower (also a monument) can be found in Groningen in the Schildersbuurt (painters’ neighbourhood), on the corner of Dr. C. Hofstede de Grootkade and the Herman Colleniusstraat).

Sources: Watertorens, Top010

First published in the Connections magazine #16 Summer 2007,

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