Tower den Bell

den Bell

Hugo Van Kuyck e.a.

Antwerp, Francis Wellesplein 1

1887 – 1953

 

Den Bell

When I was in the sixth year of secondary school (so a while ago) we went to Antwerp with some classmates one afternoon. This to visit the Alcatel company. I don’t remember much about the company visit. Only the acoustic room was exciting. Alcatel was in this building. They left in 2006 (yes, I am so old …) and since 2009 this is the administrative office building of the city of Antwerp. The building is best known for the stairs, very instagram-worthy …

National Bell Telephone Company

The National Bell Telephone Company was founded in 1877 by Graham Bell. In 1882 the first foreign branch was started in Antwerp under the name Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company. The administrative seat were located in the north of the city. Already in the same year they moved to the south of Antwerp, on the north side of the Boudewijnstraat. Five years later a site was bought on the other side of the street. Jean-Laurent Hasse was the architect for the complex. On the southeast side of the site there is still a piece of the original factory from 1896 – 1897. In 1909 the first bridge was made that connected the two building blocks on either side of the Boudewijnstraat.

Renovation

Between 2006 and 2009, the buildings were renovated by Styfhals & Partners and Driesen-Meersman-Thomaes. The inner area was almost completely built up and it was decided to demolish these buildings in order to arrive at a 4000 m² square. The chimneys remained as ventilation for the parking garage underneath. More than 2000 civil servants work in the complex.

Tower

The most striking part of the entire complex is the tower. This tower was erected in 1953 by architect Hugo Van Kuyck. It housed the offices and administrative center of the company. The tower is 58 meters high. The tower is used by the city as a meeting center, while the lower buildings are used as offices. Maintaining the open staircase in the tower was not that easy because of fire safety. The square in front of the tower’s entrance has been given the name Francis Wellesplein, after the first managing director of the company.

Den Bell

 

Hugo Van Kuyck a.o.

Antwerp, Francis Wellesplein 1

1887 – 1953

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

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