Between 1897 and 1899 a gasworks was constructed in Simmering, a suburb of Vienna, Austria. In the course of this, a water tower with visible brickwork was also built.

Project details

Project Simmering Water Tower, Vienna, Austria
Architect HOPPE architekten
Client Wiener Netze GmbH
Products used
Historic bricks, old Austrian format "Heinrich Drasche"

Simmering Water Tower in Vienna covered with historic bricks

Simmering Water Tower before and after renovation, Vienna © HAZET Bauunternehmung GmbH

Details of the brickworl of the Simmering Water Tower in Vienna before and after the renovation

Simmering Water Tower before and after the renovation, Vienna © HAZET Bauunternehmung GmbH

Simmering Water Tower in Vienna covered with historic bricks

Simmering Water Tower, Vienna © HAZET Bauunternehmung GmbH

Simmering Water Tower in Vienna covered with historic bricks

Simmering Water Tower, Vienna © HAZET Bauunternehmung GmbH

The tower

The water tower with its integrated high-level tank was originally used for cooling in the former gasworks. When the production of coal gas ceased in 1996, the water tower lost its original purpose. Until 2002 it was used as a water reservoir for the industrial water network in the Simmering gasworks. Due to its historic structure, in September 2003 it became a listed building, as an important witness for the development of former technology.

Rescue decided

Due to the poor state of preservation of the tower and severe frost damage to the brick facade, a general refurbishment was carried out in 2013 in order to preserve this historic building. The recommendations of the Vienna Control Office as well as the stringent requirements of the federal heritage agency were fully complied with, in order to obtain the best possible result. The historic facade was renovated with bricks in the old Austrian format, in keeping with the building‘s historic status. Over 1000 damaged bricks had to be chiselled out by hand and renewed. The pillars in the tower area were completely rebuilt. In total, 25% of the bricks were renewed. At the same time, the interior was gutted in order enable an adequate solution for the subsequent use of the interior as a location for events or as a museum.

Severe damage

The facade was very heavily soiled. This was due to deposits associated with the previously high level of sulphur dioxide pollution (operation of steam locomotives) and the calcification of substances leached out of the rendering. These layers of deposits, sealed the surface of the brickwork and severely restricted its ability to diffuse water vapour. The loss of material from the surface of the bricks also presented a great challenge, especially in exposed locations. Further damage, so called clod spalling results from a combination of frost and salt delamination, because water accumulates in the bricks (and not in the mortar), so that the material breaks up.

Sensitive cleaning

Reduction of the layers of dirt on the surface of the bricks was carried out with a low pressure jet method. This reduced the existing soiling and calcification, while being especially gentle on the historical surface. New rendering of the former rendered areas and sheet metal cladding. All of the originally rendered areas, as well as the subsequent changes were to be rendered after removal of the damaged areas. A lime-sand mixture was used as the mortar. Horizontal surfaces and recesses were protected from water penetration with lead sheeting.

Happy end

After its successful rescue, the venerable water tower shines in new splendour and will be used for special event after the surrounding area has been converted.

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