Actis Insulation STA awards

Grand Designs architects win Actis award at annual STA event

A water tower relocated from a wartime airfield to a historic Norfolk village and converted into a striking home with views across cornfields has won the Actis-sponsored custom and self-build category at the annual Structural Timber Awards.

The dramatic home, designed by architectural firm Tonkin Lui, whose projects have featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, was transformed from a ruined steel frame to a stunning living space after its owner bought it at auction, fighting off interest from scrap metal dealers.

The architects say it has become a popular landmark with villagers, whose community also boasts a ruined Norman Castle and a ruined 11th century priory.

The water tank has been transformed into a living room with a panoramic window, the steel frame has been infilled to provide sleeping chambers and a recreation area and a new tower has been added for access and to stabilise the delicate structure which swayed in the hilltop wind. 

A fully glazed bridge, which offers view across the treeline, connects the sleeping chambers to a spiral castle style stair tower.

Tonkin Lui and its directors Anna Lui and Mike Tonkin have also won 17 RIBA awards, which recognise ‘the best architecture in the UK’ and the Stephen Lawrence Prize for ‘new, experimental architectural talent’. The studio was also showcased in Taschen’s ‘40 Under 40’ book on the future of architecture.