Studio Libeskind set to add angular extension to Antwerp art deco tower

Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind’s studio has designed a modern addition to the iconic Boerentoren Tower in Antwerp, Belgium, which was once the tallest skyscraper in Europe.

Studio Libeskind plans to introduce cultural facilities and a viewpoint on the roof of the iconic, 90-year-old high-rise, designed in the Art Deco style by Belgian architect Jan Van Hoenacker.

The proposal is being developed with local architecture studio ELD and was the winning entry in a design competition organized by the current owner, port operator Katoen Natie.

The tower will become a “public space for art”

Katoen Natie’s aim is to transform the building, which was one of the first high-rise buildings in Europe and was the tallest skyscraper on the continent when completed, into a cultural institution for the public, while preserving its architectural heritage.

“In its time, the Boerentoren was an unprecedented art deco design, just like the Empire State Building in New York, where I live,” Libeskind said after the announcement, according to Flemish broadcaster VRT.

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“It was a private building with apartments and offices. Today, we are turning the entire complex into a public space for art.”

Visual representation of the expansion of the Boerentoren tower in Antwerp
Studio Libeskind designed the extension for the Boerentoren tower in Antwerp

Restoration work on the Boerentoren has already begun, and its interior is fragmented due to the presence of asbestos. However, work on the design of Studio Libeskind has not yet been approved by the authorities, so the final design may change, reports VRT.

If approved, the Studio Libeskind extension will sit atop the tower as a crown and will contrast the art deco style of the tower, which will be preserved.

The extension will not exceed the height of the cathedral

The visuals also show that the studio plans to add a glass tower on the rear elevation, which will contain areas for plenty of plants that will be visible from the outside.

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Both additions are depicted in the paintings with angular glass forms – a feature of most of Libeskind’s works.

Although the exact height of the extension has not been revealed, it will not exceed the height of Antwerp Cathedral, which is 123 meters high.

Night view of the extension of the Boerentoren tower in the Libeskind studio
It will feature the characteristic angular shapes of Daniel Libeskind

If built, the Boerentorena extension will be open to the public and used as a place to admire the Antwerp skyline and have drinks and dinner.

As part of the project, Studio Libeskind plans to transform the existing parts of the tower into various cultural and educational facilities, including three floors of exhibition spaces.

The existing basement level and two parking levels will also be converted into galleries dedicated to the history of Antwerp.

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The renovation is not the first in Boerentoren

Boerentoren, which translates as Farmer’s Tower, was originally built as a residential high-rise before being transformed into a commercial high-rise by KBC Bank.

KBC commissioned the restoration and expansion of the building in the late 1960s after being forced to demolish or renovate it.

Studio Libeskind was founded by Libeskind and his partner Nina Libeskind in 1989 in Berlin.

The studio is best known for creating poignant memorials and museums for tragic events, with the most famous examples being the Ground Zero master plan in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which also used his trademark sharp angles and sloping surfaces.

Visual images courtesy of Studio Libeskind.

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