Boerentoren – the first skyscraper in Europe

Boerentoren

Emiel Van Averbeke, Jan Vanhoenacker,Jos Smolderen

Antwerp, Schoenmarkt 35

1929 – 1931

Boerentoren (Farmer’s Tower)

During WWI, the area between the Schoenmarkt and Eiermarkt was destroyed. The city wanted to work with one building partner who would realize something beautiful for the 1930 World Fair. They found that partner in the “General Banking Association”, which was the Boerenbank’s (Farmer’s Bank) most important shareholder. This means that the tower still bears the title “Boerentoren” (Farmer’s Tower). Kredietbank became the owner in 1935, and since 1998 it has been KBC.

High

When the building was finished, it was the highest skyscraper in Europe with a height of 87.5 meters and 25 floors. The tower is currently 95.75 meters high. This means that it’s now the second tallest building in Antwerp, after the 123-meter high cathedral. Between 1954 and 1975 it was even higher: 100 meters and even 112.5 meters if you included the antennas.

Steel

The building consists of a steel skeleton on a foundation of reinforced concrete (2 meters thick under the tower and 1 meter thick under the side wings). The finish consists of white limestone. 3400 tonnes of steel were used with 430,000 rivets.

Panorama

At the top, on the 25th floor, a water basin is integrated with a capacity of 230 m³ and it’s completely covered with copper. Below is a panorama room, opened in 1932. 3 francs was the entrance fee. After the restoration of the 1970s, a new panorama room was opened above the reservoir and that room is only open for special occasions.

Not only a bank

In essence, the building was a residential tower, with room for offices and shops. For example, on the first floor there was a tearoom by Cuperus, now in the Katelijnevest, fully furnished as a Chinese salon. People lived there until 1968. From 1970 to 1976 architects Leon Stynen and P. De Meyer worked on a new wing on the Eiermarkt, the entire interior was modernized and the entire building became an office. On the 7th floor there is a frieze on the facade with animal and plant motifs and on the right corner of the tower is a statue of Our Lady.

Boerentoren

 

Emiel Van Averbeke, Jan Vanhoenacker,Jos Smolderen

Antwerp, Schoenmarkt 35

1929 – 1931

This article first appeared on my other site about architecture in and around Antwerp: archiplore.