By Alyn Griffiths
On the small island of Vaxön, in the Stockholm archipelago, there is a water tower that has been converted into a family home, but that’s not the only remarkable thing about it. In addition to its distinctive architecture — and its picturesque setting, atop a tree-covered hill — the four-bedroom property has an array of antennas on its roof that can be leased to telecommunications firms, generating a profit for its owners.
“It’s amazing — living in this house you earn money instead of spending it,” says the current owner, Carl-Henrik Permert. “Explaining this to potential buyers is not easy because it seems too good to be true.”
The tower, which is on the market for SKr19.8mn ($1.87mn), was built in 1923 to a design by influential Swedish architect Cyrillus Johansson — a prominent member of the Nordic Classicism movement whose other notable buildings include the Museum of Värmland in Karlstad and an extension to the nearby Vaxholm town hall.
The water tower, which is approximately 20 miles from Stockholm, was decommissioned in 1974 but remained in reserve until 1989. It then stood unused until Permert purchased it in 2000.
“I work in real estate and I immediately saw the potential of this building,” says Permert. Inspired by the converted loft apartments he had encountered during trips to New York in the 1970s, Permert set about transforming the tower into a house that retains original features such as the porthole-style windows, external copper cladding and a weathervane in the shape of a sailboat, by Swedish sculptor Aron Sandberg.
The home’s accommodation is distributed across the first four floors. The entrance leads to a circular kitchen, living and dining space with a soaring 16-foot ceiling and oak parquet floors. Large, arched openings in the brick walls flood the room with natural light that changes throughout the day. “The way sunlight moves across these walls is majestic,” says Permert. “It’s more dynamic than living in a normal house.”
The three floors above contain bedrooms, including a main suite, along with storage and a plywood-lined music room. A narrow spiral staircase ascends to the fifth and sixth floors, which are located in the tower’s water tank and used for storage and to house the telecoms equipment. At the very top of the tower, there is a sauna with an uninterrupted view across the archipelago.
The small cluster of antennas fitted to the tower’s roof generates rental income that can provide an annual surplus of around SKr300,000, net of costs. There is also a separate timber-framed car port with a studio apartment that can be rented out.
Permert says, jokingly, that as well as the potential to make a profit, the property can help keep its occupier fit: “The house has a lot of stairs, so living there is a wonderful workout!”
Asked why someone might choose to buy this unusual house, Permert, who lived in the tower with his family until his children were old enough to leave home, says: “You get to live in the centre of the town but with no neighbours — and you have the best view in the archipelago.”
Photography: Peter Engmalm/Christie’s International Real Estate