- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
The water reservoir has a hexagonal external plan surrounding a circular chamber that measures 20 feet in diameter at ground level. A domed roof rests on a stepped drum over the inward-leaning walls. The exterior has pedimented projecting bays alternating with inward-tilted panels. The water house was made of renderd brick and plaster; on drawing 15, a signed agreement between Soane and John Bayley confirms the design to be executed. Thomas Poynder was the bricklayer (D. Stroud, p.760).
The building is shown in a topographical perspective, plan and section published in Soane's Sketches in Architecture, 1793 (plates 41 and 42) and referred to as a 'Castello d'aqua'. It was built to replace an earlier conduit head standing just north-east of the house, at the southern end of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's eastern ride (D. Stroud, p. 760). Water would be directed to the house from here via various pipes. The building is modelled on a Roman type placed at the edges of the city where Roman aqueducts would have terminated, distributing water pipes into town. Soane's design draws it influences from Roman mausoleum architecture. It is a simplified version of a design Soane worked on in 1779 for the annual competition, the 'Concorso', at the Academy in Parma in Italy.
The water house was demolished in the 19th century, although its foundations were excavated in 2002 (D. Adshead, 2003, p. 15).
Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Preliminary design, working drawing and preliminary presentation drawing for a water reservoir, or 'Castello d'Acqua', 1793 and 1800 (3)
-  Preliminary design for a water reservoir, or 'Castello d'Acqua', July 1793
-  Working drawing for a water reservoir, or 'Castello d'Acqua', 25 July 1793
-  Preliminary presentation drawing of the water reservoir, 17 January 1800