Nevertheless, this 35 meter high structure in a clearing in the Nesselberg in Waren an der Müritz does have a distinctly whimsical air. Built in brick with a classic conical roof with slate cladding, the addition of a stair tower and striking half-timbering at the top will awaken fairytale associations in most observers well before they set foot in it. Indeed, guests are not disappointed. Inside the Waren water tower, there are plenty more features which combine to ensure that their holiday is an all-round success.
Waren Water Tower is fantastic at any time of year. Even in winter it holds a special enchantment (Photo left hand side: © BEWAHREN Ferienhaus eG). Guests will find ample space here in four entirely separate apartments.
The Waren Water Tower had a chequered history spanning many decades before becoming a liveable industrial monument for fans of architecture and tourists alike. Built in 1897 to general ridicule, burned down in 1900 and re-erected shortly afterwards, work began to renovate the water tower once more in 1953 to repair war damage, only for it to be decommissioned ten years later. It remained unoccupied for around two decades from the beginning of the 1990s. It was not until 2011 that it found its new owners who discovered it in a newspaper advertisement, purchased it and breathed new life into it. This was made possible by the foundation of a cooperative of originally six founder members. They had stood out from all other prospective purchasers because, by letting it out and opening it up annually on National Monuments Day, they would be keeping it open to the general public. Moreover, their architectural concept, devised in close collaboration with the national monuments preservation authority, was ideally in keeping with the character of the monument. The experience enjoyed by guests to the four quite different apartments in this five-storey building today is therefore the result of the work of many determined minds and hands over several years.
A photo taken in 2011 shows the phase after the upgrading of the original suspended ceilings and before the renovation of the stair tower (in the background). Photo: © BEWAHREN Ferienhaus eG
The stairwell had to be completely gutted and rebuilt. Photo credits: © BEWAHREN Ferienhaus eG
Parts of the water tank which contained 175 cubic metres have, since the conversion, formed the ceiling of the 2nd storey and serve as seating surrounding the storey above it. The remainder of the tank was dismantled in situ into 60 x 60 cm parts. Guests will discover various parts of it as wall, lamp or decorative features in the apartments or in the garden. Some space-forming supply and outlet pipes have also remained intact with their original function still evident. Complex improvements had to be made before the stairwell could be opened for use, in order to meet current safety requirements. To meet the requirements for a second emergency escape route, small balconies were built onto the 1st and 2nd storeys which now provide a wonderful private experience of the surrounding woodland clearing. On the ground floor a terrace, and on the top floor an existing circular walkway give the same effect. Last but not least all windows have been reinforced, which was also necessary to comply with regulations due to the age of the building, and was correspondingly expensive.
All apartments have an outdoor area, either a terrace, balcony or circular gallery. The communal garden is open to everyone. Photo: © Jan Kulke.
From the upper storeys you feel like you are flying with the birds, and very close to nature in this woodland clearing. Photo: © Jan Kulke
Round isn’t easy, but it is beautiful
The unusual structural shape posed particular architectural challenges when it came to interior fixtures and fittings. Some aspects that are perhaps not quite so immediately apparent to holiday guests presented considerable problems. The heating, for instance, had people racking their brains for a long time before being eventually resolved by skirting heating which not only ideally staves off the incoming cold but is also visually unobtrusive and can be adapted to the shape of the room. The same applies to all built-in furniture, storage units or integral seating: everything had to fit the shape of the tower and be made to measure. Even the curtain poles, such as those on the ground floor, had to slot in – “form follows form”, so to speak. It is these details – whether they are consciously or unconsciously noticed – that effectively round off the overall impression for temporary residents. The rooms are airy, harmonious, and leave space for countless historic structural features. For that reason alone, a stay in the water tower is a unique experience. The only exceptions are the sanitary fittings which have been set into the apartments as stand-alone cubes and provide a distinctive counterpoint by their shape alone.
Details such as round curtain poles or built-in furniture such as the platform shown here, which also serves as storage space, can be found all over the tower. Photo: © Jan Kulke
In the Güstrow apartment, the historical function is particularly apparent. The former wall brackets and the floor of the water tank itself are visible. Sleeping under it on the sleep gallery is an unforgettable experience. Photo: © Jan Kulke.
Round and snug – this and the next photo show the ground-floor Hagenow apartment as an example. Photos: © Jan Kulke
The ground-floor kitchen has been built around the preserved water pipe, in the most literal sense of the words, preserving the authenticity of the water tower. Photo: © Jan Kulke
The upper edge of the water tank has been retained in the Pankow apartment as circulating seating and is therefore omnipresent. Photo: © Jan Kulke
Elements of the partially-dismantled water tank are to be found all over the property, such as in this wall lamp. Photo: © Jan Kulke
A special operator model: the cooperative
It took more than 2,000 working hours in total before Waren Water Tower could be opened in its current form at Whitsun in 2011. The objective of the cooperative, which now boasts 39 members, has never been about maximising profit but rather preserving the substance of the building which also permits members to enjoy affordable holidays long term. This, indeed was one of the original objectives. As the original “desirable property” has now been booked out on more than 200 days in the year and repayment of the loans is a realistic prospect, the associates are already considering further properties – preferably by the sea, in the mountains and in the south”.
Part of the cooperative. 39 members now have high hopes. Photo: © Jan Kulke
But don’t worry: even if such plans should come to fruition, the operators will continue to take good care of their tower as they have done since its opening. This too is a special quality of the cooperative: the members meet regardless of their own holidays, on site, twice a year for a major volunteer effort. Then, every detail is scrutinised and the tower as well as the garden spruced up. One thing you notice when you stay there is how well the original quality is preserved. Even the kitchen knives are always kept sharp. Many details, therefore, to delight every guest! The real owners of the water tower are, by the way, the jackdaws who have had a small colony there for many generations. In 2012, they were lovingly and very carefully accommodated in new outside nesting boxes. So they will remain for a very long time to come, we hope, together with wood pigeons, wrens, blackbirds, cuckoos, chiff-chaffs, woodpeckers and chaffinches, the secret sovereigns of this little woodland clearing upon which the water tower stands. But worry not: they co-exist happily with the holiday guests and Rapunzel would definitely have loved them too!
The new outdoor jackdaw bungalows. Photo credits: © BEWAHREN Ferienhaus eG)
For anyone who wants to use the water tower as a base for an active holiday, the nearby Feisneck provides wonderful natural bathing. Waren town centre is very easy to reach from the Nesselberg. Watersports are available all over the lake area, fresh fish can be had from the Müritzfischer freshwater fisheries. For those who just like to contemplate the peace and tranquillity of nature, there is the national park nearby waiting to be discovered, and bikes for hire to get around on.
Natural beauty is all around – whether at Feisneck, Müritz or in the national park – and within easy reach. See next photos © BEWAHREN Ferienhaus eG
by Ulrich Stefan Knoll, October 2017