Belgian Fruit Fair – art deco on the Eilandje
Belgische Fruitsbeurs Antwerpen - titel

Belgian Fruit Fair

Joseph Somers + Cols en De Roeck + Alfred Portielje

Antwerp, Zeevaartstraat

1935 – 1936

Fruit

During my architecture studies I discovered this hidden gem of Art Deco. This building is of course discussed during the “Warehouses and Parks” tour.

The buildings are located in the old port area of Antwerp. In 1933 three fruit traders bought a piece of land here. Each trader had hired their own architect to design their office building:

  • architects Vincent Cols and Jules De Roeck -> Spiers & White
  • architect Alfred Portielje -> Gérard Koninckx Frères
  • architect Jos. Somers -> Leon Van Parijs

Sales hall

The building with showroom, sales hall, meeting room and bar is on the corner of Godefriduskaai and Zeevaartstraat. The sales hall is sometimes opened at an Heritage Day, for example, which is certainly worth the visit. The offices are still used by fruit traders, the bar apparently no longer …

The first design of the corner building was modernist, following the example of Belgian architect Eduard Van Steenbergen and Dutch architect Dudok. The entrance was made entirely of glass. The second design, which was realized, was much more modest with a few narrow, high windows at the entrance. It has a reinforced concrete structure and a red brick for the facade.

Leon van Parijs

The most beautiful building is the middle building, by Léon Van Parijs. The fruit trader had offices in Düsseldorf, Valencia, New York and Rio De Janeiro. The main products were citrus fruits and bananas. It was known under their initials: LVP or ElVePe. These initials are displayed meters high in the tower.

The reinforced concrete building is supported by pile foundations needed by the marshy soil. The contractor was Pieux Franki from Liège. He also built the Waaslandtunnel. Beams with a span of more than 20 meters were used for the garages and offices. The offices are still in use too, but many of the details have been lost due to modernization.

 

Belgian Fruit Fair

 

Joseph Somers + Cols en De Roeck + Alfred Portielje

Antwerp, Zeevaartstraat

1935-1936

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

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