The Cistern Peter de Bretteville Architect

The existing concrete water tank, with interior dimensions 50 foot diameter and 28 foot height, was built in 1907 on a high south facing ridge overlooking the City of New Haven and Long Island Sound. Monumental red rock formations of similar height, East Rock and West Rock, define the natural landscape boundaries of the City and frame the views from this high point. The evolution of the neighborhood toward residential uses and other elements such as the four columns of the interior supporting the roof on a two way grid of beams as well as the size of the tank made it ideal for reuse as a dwelling. By insulating the 10″ thick roof slab and the 18″ thick concrete walls, on the outside maximum advantage is taken of the thermal mass. The approach from the street is by a stair on the east side which rises 9 feet to the 100 foot square level area on which the water tank sits. To the west of the stair at street level is the garage, once an underground vault for valves. A climb to the top reveals views over the City and Sound while the porch to the left invites entry. At the center, a two story high library, bounded by four columns and lit by four circular skylights, orders the scheme. The living room within the two story high ‘bow’ to the south opens to a porch shaded by grape vines which replaced an earlier canvas roof. The kitchen to the east is intended as the primary eating place although the library can be the focus of larger feasts. The studio to the north is lit by a two story high glass wall and bounded by offices. On the second floor, the bedrooms flank the upper library space while bathrooms and dressing rooms are placed to the north. The deep existing wall and projecting bays create window seats at east and west openings. At all other openings the glass is set within the wall. The roof is accessed from outside by the spiral stair in the existing octagonal tower.

Location:  Hamden, CT

Program:  Single Family House

Size:  3,200sf

Cost:  NA

Completion:  1995

Structural:  Vladimir Tussman

Mechanical:  Sgorbati and Associates

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