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Thorpeness, England

House in the Clouds

Unusual British home built to disguise a water tower. 

This unusual structure was built in a marriage of form and function. During the early 20th century the owner of the nearby resort community of Thorpeness needed a water tower constructed. The challenge presented to the engineering company selected for the job was to somehow minimize the visual impact the tower would have on the view for the local residents. The solution they arrived at ultimately became the “House in the Clouds.”

Built in 1923, the 70-foot-tall tower consisted of a large metal tank at the top that holds 50,000 gallons. The tank was enclosed in siding and fake windows to give it the appearance of a house in the sky and the support structure was enclosed and turned into living spaces.

A British author of children’s stories, Mrs. Malcolm Mason is credited with the naming of the house. Originally called the “Gazebo,” Mrs. Mason christened it instead the “House in the Clouds” after penning a poem while staying at the newly-built home.

Damaged by an English antiaircraft shell during World War II, the metal tank shrank to 30,000 gallons after repairs. By 1977 the tank no longer served any purpose to the local community and work was begun in 1987 to convert the large space at the top into a game room. Today the entire structure is open for vacation rental and has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and 68 stairs in its five stories.

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