KBC-toren Antwerpen

Competition project for the redevelopment of an historic tower with a panoramic hall, exhibition space, hospitality, 6059m² commercial premises, 3991m² office space, hotel with 124 rooms, 52 student rooms, 41 starter homes and 38 apartments








Architectenbureau Vanhecke & Suls
partner architect renovation
OKRA Landschapsarchitecten
landscape design
Macobo-stabo Engineers
structural engineering
Boydens Engineering, part of Sweco
MEP, energy and sustainability engineering
Bureau De Fonseca
acoustical engineering
project development
Artes Roegiers
general contracting
project management
project management

The Boerentoren was constructed between 1929 and 1931 by the Algemeene Bankvereeniging, an organisation belonging to the Boerenbond – hence the name. At the time it was Belgium’s first ‘skyscraper’ and Europe’s tallest tower block. From the moment of completion, the design by the architects Jan Vanhoenacker, Jos Smolderen and Emiel Van Averbeke was seen as an iconic building, and this is still the case today. Every Antwerp resident has a special place in their heart for the Boerentoren.

Since its construction in 1931, the Boerentoren has undergone numerous renovations and extensions, including a striking expansion by the architect Léon Stynen in the early 1970s. Today the building takes up the entire city block. The internal functions have also changed multiple times: from a residential tower with a few floors for hospitality and the bank to the latter’s use of the entire building as offices. In the early 2020s, the building’s owner KBC decided to redevelop the premises and to seek out a team that would repurpose the project to create a multifunctional urban building.

Project developer CAAAP assembled a multidisciplinary team with META architectuurbureau, assisted by Architectenbureau Vanhecke & Suls. The team jointly developed a vision of a new future for this Antwerp icon. This collective reflection resulted in a multifunctional urban project with a varied mixture of different functions.

In the first instance, the concept envisages the building becoming accessible to the public. On the 27th floor, there will be a panoramic hall offering a unique 360° view across the whole city. An exhibition space in the former safe deposit box room on level -1 and a hospitality outlet on level +10 (immediately adjoining the renovated rooftop landscape of the base volume) will be opened to the public.

On the ground floor, space will be reserved for street-level activating functions such as commercial premises, a KBC bank branch and the reception and lobby of the design hotel chain Mama Shelter. On the floors above, there will be additional commercial premises and offices, as well as 124 hotel rooms with accompanying hotel restaurant, 52 student rooms, 41 starter homes and 38 apartments. The diversity of the programme guarantees as wide an audience as possible, ensuring that the new Boerentoren becomes a truly urban building.

A series of spatial interventions are necessary to implement the redevelopment. The heart of the base will be cut out, ensuring that the functions on the margins are provided with sufficient daylight. Above the base, a diverse and green landscape will be developed on the roof. This will contribute to the building’s liveability and biodiversity without threatening its iconic value. The roof gardens will be equipped with terraces, informal seating areas, barbecue zones, picnic tables, but also activity areas (pétanque) and zones for small-scale urban farming (herb garden for the hotel and restaurant).

Inspired by the original design, the tower will be provided with a new crown into which the panoramic hall and a number of essential technical functions will be elegantly integrated.

The proposed redevelopment opens up the building to a large and broad audience; makes a series of well-considered spatial interventions, including the activation of the roof landscape; and shows maximum respect for the building’s heritage function and iconic value.