The Co-operative's Story: a place for everyone

Imagine that you owned a beautiful red-brick water tower, which was a protected monument, full of hand-built, designer holiday apartments, and sat atop a hill, surrounded by trees and overlooking two lakes?  

Sounds idyllic, but oh-so-unrealistic, right? Well, wrong! This happens to be the reality for 40+ people, a co-operative united around the desire to save crumbling-but-beautiful buildings, and make them accessible for all. That’s correct, for all: the co-operative rent the apartments to the public. So my partner Rupert and I took a mid-week mini-break to check out the first property, Müritz Water Tower...

"We wanted to keep the essence of the building, and worked with two great architects for the restoration."

There’s something magical about arriving somewhere at sunset: our sense of anticipation was high as we raced around the corner on our bikes while orange light danced on the water, gazing upwards to try and glimpse the Water Tower’s grey slate roof through swaying pine trees. 

On climbing the winding spiral staircase to the apartment, we discovered a gorgeous hideout complete with mezzanine bed, bright red kitchen and circular windows overlooking the treetops.

The next morning over breakfast with Paul, a member of the co-operative and thus co-owner of the Water Tower, I shared how it was such a treat that this child-like excitement was valid, and that the photos didn’t do the place justice.

“I couldn’t agree more!” He exclaimed, “I read about the Water Tower in the Tagesspiegel nearly 10 years ago, and fell in love with the concept. But when I visited - wow! I already knew about how special the Müritz National Park was, having spent time here canoeing and cycling, but the Water Tower is the cherry on the cake for holidaying here. Becoming a member was a no-brainer for me.”

I sipped coffee and gazed across the garden that was bursting full of flowers, herbs and fruit bushes as Paul pointed out his favourite cycling routes (Rupert decided on the route with the cafe serving Streuselkuchen), and reflected on the how, during the renovation, no detail had been forgotten. For instance, in our bathroom, a drum skin had been repurposed as a magnetic curtain to stop people peeking as you showered, and it hung on the wall like a work of art until it was needed. And our ceiling was comprised of only of the thick metal bottom of the former water container.

“We wanted to keep the essence of the building, and worked with two great architects for the restoration,” Paul told me, “Christian Thommes and Ralf Weißheimer (who were also founding members of the coop). It was a long process but well worth it. In addition to keeping all of these nods to the history of the tower, such as using pieces of metal as artwork, we wanted to create cosy, modern apartments. All those members who had useable skills pitched in! The kitchens were hand-built in a popstahl style, but without steel, as Ralf manages the company.”

And we can confirm, the apartments are incredibly cosy. After a day exploring the Müritz by bike and eating a lot of potatoes (me), fish (Rupert) and cake (both), it was so satisfying to collapse on our terrace and take in the sound of birds, bats and the breeze. 

While 48 hours were enough to unwind, we could have easily holed up here for a week, stocking up on the calming energy that radiates from this place, taking morning swims in Feisnecksee, reading in the garden, and going for afternoon coffee and cake. Here’s to more Müritz weekends!

The co-operative is currently developing a property in the mountains, and are looking for one by the sea! If you are interested in joining as a member, get in touch and I can pass your details on.

And for all of you who want to book a holiday at the Müritz Water Tower asap, visit the full review for more details.

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