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 viewpoint 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 together with the local architecture studio ELD and was the winning entry in a design competition held by its current owner, the port operator Katoen Natie.

Tower will become “public space for art”.

Katoen Natie’s aim is to transform the building, which was one of Europe’s very 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, reports the Flemish broadcaster VRT.

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

Restoration work on the Boerentoren has already begun, with its interior cut off due to the presence of asbestos. However, work on Studio Libeskind’s design still needs to be approved by authorities, so the final design may change, reports VRT.

If approved, Studio Libeskind’s extension will sit on top of the tower like a crown, juxtaposing the tower’s art deco style that remains.

Extension will not exceed cathedral height

The footage also hints at the studio’s plans to add a glass tower at the back, which will contain 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 typical feature in much of Libeskind’s work.

Although the extension’s exact height has not been disclosed, it will not exceed the height of Antwerp’s cathedral, which is 123 meters high.

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

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

As part of the project, Studio Libeskind plans to transform 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.

Renovation not the first at Boerentoren

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

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

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

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

The footage is courtesy of Studio Libeskind.

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