Its equivalent in Detroit was simply named the Book Tower. Today it is abandoned, devoid of human life or books. It was named after the famous Book brothers of Michigan. The tower in Ghent however, has not suffered this disappointment or abandon. The building itself, even though only half as tall as that of Detroit, is home to more than three million books. The Boekentoren is the fourth tallest tower in Ghent with 24 floors and rising, 64 metres in the air. But it is above all a masterpiece of modernist architecture designed by Henry van de Velde, a Belgian genius who does not enjoy the fame he deserves.
This building was commissioned by the University of Ghent and took form in his imagination as a gigantic library, a lighthouse of knowledge on the former workers’ housing estate in the central district of Ghent called Blandijnberg. Van de Velde defied all preconceived ideas about what a site of this kind should look like and gave free rein to his creative inspiration. In 1933, he designed an unusual façade of bare concrete on a plinth with bluestone cladding. A vertical ultra-modern alternative to the traditional library.