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

Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind’s studio has designed a contemporary extension to the iconic Boerentoren tower in Antwerp, Belgium, once Europe’s tallest skyscraper.

Studio Libeskind plans to introduce cultural facilities and a rooftop view to 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 run by its current owner, port operator Katoen Natie.

The Tower will become a “public space for art”

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

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

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

Visual of an extension to the Boerentoren tower in Antwerp
Studio Libeskind has designed an extension for the Boerentoren tower in Antwerp

Restoration work on the Boerentoren has already begun, with the interior gutted due to the presence of asbestos. However, work on Studio Libeskind’s design has not yet been approved by authorities, so the final design may change, VRT reported.

If approved, Studio Libeskind’s extension will sit atop the tower like a crown, juxtaposing the tower’s art deco style which will be preserved.

The extension will not exceed the height of the cathedral

The images also show the studio’s plans to add a glass tower to the rear elevation, including areas for an abundance of plants that will be visible from the outside.

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Both additions are depicted with angular glass forms in the images – a characteristic feature in much of Libeskind’s work.

Although the exact height of the extension has not been revealed, it will not be higher than the height of Antwerp cathedral, which is 123 meters high.

Night view of the Boerentoren tower extension by Studio Libeskind
It will feature Daniel Libeskind’s signature angular forms

If built, the extension of the Boerentoren will be opened to the public and used as a space to admire the Antwerp skyline and to drink and eat.

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.

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

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Renovation not the first in Boerentoren

The Boerentoren, which translates as Farmer’s Tower, was originally built as a residential tower before the KBC bank converted it into an office tower.

KBC commissioned the renovation and extension of the building in the late 1960s, after being forced to demolish or refurbish it.

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

The studio is best known for creating moving monuments and museums for tragic events, the most famous examples being the Ground Zero master plan in New York and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which also used its trademark style of sharp angles and inclined surfaces.

Images courtesy of Studio Libeskind.

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