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Sustainability Sessions: Retrofit - Castle Acre Water Tower with Tonkin Liu

The Sustainability Sessions were a series of talks in 2021 devised to explore aspects of sustainability in the built environment. The first series celebrated retrofit projects that aim to reduce carbon emissions while giving existing buildings new life.


About Castle Acre Water Tower restoration and new build, 2016

I spoke to Mike Tonkin about the practice's award winning water tower. The tower acts as a landmark at the end of the historic village it previously served. The project celebrates and continues the life of the structure by converting it into a home that benefits from its unique form and panoramic views of the surrounding barley fields. The restoration of the tower ensures its existing values are retained by giving life back to its structural system and exposing its robustness and materiality. The tank itself is reused as a living and dining space, and suspended below it are two bedrooms and a ground-floor garden room that allows the structure to integrate with the surrounding wilderness. A separate stair tower to the South is added for access.

Post-retrofit Water Tower, External © Dennis Pedersen


About Mike Tonkin

Mike Tonkin is a qualified architect and landscape architect. He established his practice after leaving the RCA in 1989 and founded Tonkin Liu with Anna Liu in 2001. Mike’s professional practice has been consistently informed by a distinctive pursuit of form and lessons observed from the natural world. The work has been informed by an understanding of vernacular architecture observed during extensive travels around the world.




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