De Boerentoren is the oldest sky scraper in Europe. Build in the early thirties, the building is older then the empire state building but build in the same nice Art Deco style (only 200 meters shorter).
Architects: Jan Van Hoenacker, Jos Smolderen, Emiel Van Averbeke
I always smile when I think about its history. In the inter bellum, Antwerp had this very modernistic City Mayor that wanted to renew the city. On his trip to New York he was smitten with all the amazing sky scrapers.
‘I want this for Antwerp too.’ - he must have thought. And soon after returning home from his US trip he sent a few young architects to New York to study the structures.
These architects made contacts with local architects who explained to them how to build such a construction.
When they came home they developed a plan to build their own Antwerp-tower, the tallest Sky Scraper in Europe. They presented their design plans it to the city board and the main city architect.
Everybody was very enthusiastic about the project. But the city architect (I imagine him as an old guy of then 19th century with a big grey beard) concluded that the young eager architects must have made a small mistake in their calculations.
He said it would be impossible to build it according to their blueprint.
‘The youngsters must have made some errors with the conversion from inches to meters. Let’s multiply the width of the walls times 6 and it will be ok’.
And that’s what happened. This building has been built with walls that are 6 times ticker then they should be. We just wanted to be sure it won’t collapse and this way we can be certain it's earthquake proof. ☺
Return from Boerentoren to Antwerpens Districts