Amazing homes: a converted reservoir

August 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM Leave a comment

If there were a property Olympics for the best conversion in Britain then the extraordinary house for sale on a hill overlooking Sidmouth in Devon would win a gold medal for invention.

While most people opt to convert more ordinary structures such as barns, schools, windmills and warehouses, the owners of The Reservoir, as the name suggests, have opted for what is said to be the only conversion of its kind in the UK.

converted reservoir

Back in the 2007 South West Water put an old reservoir on the market with planning permission to create a five-bedroom, partly subterranean home with a circumference of 85m and a diameter of 25m.

To the naked eye the reservoir was just a grassy hummock protruding from a small hill overlooking a maze of residential streets at the back of Sidmouth, which is 15 miles southeast of Exeter and best known as the gateway to Devon’s ‘Jurassic coast’ and poet John Betjeman’s favourite seaside spot.

converted reservoir terrace

What Betjeman, who was a passionate supporter of Victorian architecture, might think of this highly modernist piece of architecture is another matter.

Roofed in green material to blend in with the hill (the property is almost invisible until you’re nearby) The Reservoir is a testament to both imaginative architecture and adventurous structural engineering.

The property is built around a circular central patio open to the skies, around which has been built a two-level house with six bedrooms, a games room, two reception rooms and a garage and tunnel entrance to the side. And its journey has been an extraordinary one too.

First advertised for £250,000 in 2003, agent Winkworth Exeter says initial viewings of the property, which came with detailed architectural plans drawn up by SouthWest Water’s development arm Peninsular Properties, were “conducted through a manhole” before the house was bought by an engineer with his own building company and the substantial conversion work completed.

But it’s not just an architectural wonder on offer – The Reservoir is for sale at £1.25m after a price drop “for a quick sale”, according to agent Winkworth. On the other hand, if you have a hankering for a house in the round, then there are other options available.

More homes that aren’t square

1. Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, £129,995

Two-bedroom flat on the sixth floor of a circular apartment development within the city’s main marine, shopping and residential quarter to the north of the its centre.

 2. Three bedroom house in Pontrypridd, Wales, £240,000

This extraordinary home was the entrance gateway to a dream that never was. Dr William Price had plans for a Museum of Welsh life which he tried to build in 1838 to celebrate Wales’ language and history, which he thought was disappearing. The gatehouse was built but the museum failed to materialise after failing to raise enough funds.

3. Three bedroom house, Bournemouth, Dorset – £699,950

At the front of this relatively conventional development in West Overcliff in Bournemouth is a five storey, three bedroom houses built-in the style of a lighthouse. It’s biggest benefit is the  unusual sun terrace at its crown, pictured below.

4. Three bedroom farmhouse, Inchture, near Perth – £300,000

A surprising niche in the Scottish property market is the large number of small farmhouses or ‘steads’ that survive from the 18th and 19th century. Many of these were built with round outhouses, most of which are now either used as lounges or large kitchens.

Entry filed under: Interesting properties. Tags: , , .

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