Planning is underway for the construction of the tallest skyscraper in western Europe. But the spire won’t look down over London, Paris or Frankfurt. Instead, the 1,049-foot building will rise over Brande, a town of 7,000 people on Denmark’s primarily rural Jutland Peninsula.
Sarah Cascone at artnet News reports that the Tower and Village project, as the structure is called, will be as tall as the Eiffel Tower and will knock London’s Shard, the European Union’s current tallest building, off its pedestal. The building is the brainchild of Anders Holch Povlsen, owner of the clothing company Bestseller, based in Brande, and Denmark’s richest man.
“The overall building project is thought as an investment in Brande, and the planned high-rise building will function as an icon for the new expansion,” Povlsen says in a press release. “It will be a landmark that places Brande on the map, but it will also function as an architectural attraction benefitting hotel guests, students and other users of the building. The plan is born out of the passion and interest for architecture and a vision of creating a unique building that matches the unique setup of a rethought headquarter.”
The complex, designed by Dorte Mandrup architects, will include offices for the brand, hotel facilities, educational spaces and 30 retail shops. It’s believed the tower will be visible from 40 miles away.
Rick Noack at The Washington Post reports that the project was officially approved by the Brande city council in mid-March, meaning construction could begin as early as this year. Among locals, there doesn’t seem to be much opposition, though some consider the ridiculousness of the tower. “[F]or most people looking at a project like this being built in a community as small as this is, it does seem rather insane, doesn’t it?” Anders Udengaard, a local politician tells Richard Orange at The Guardian. Orange reports that Rokokoposten, Denmark’s version of The Onion, satirized the building, claiming The Lord of the Rings villain Sauron wanted to put a flaming eye art installation on the top of the tower.
Trine Kammer, an architect from Aarhus, tells Orange the tower would disturb the open landscape of the Jutland Peninsula. As Orange notes, it would be visible from such attractions as Legoland and Jelling, the seat of Viking King Harald Bluetooth. “Such a big building will make the world claustrophobically small,” Kammer says. “Why do I have to be reminded of Bestseller when I’m walking by myself in a quiet wood?”
While the tower is tall, it doesn’t even crack the world’s 25 tallest buildings, falling short by more than 300 feet. Which begs the question—why doesn’t western Europe have more skyscrapers? Only Frankfurt and London make the list of 100 cities with the most skyscrapers.
Stephen Smith at Forbes reports that some cities, like Frankfurt and Rotterdam, which were heavily damaged by bombing during World War II, have added tall buildings to their skyline. But places like Paris and Rome have resisted skyscrapers, which they believe would change the character of their historic cities.
But that is changing quickly. Paris has a whole slew of skyscapers that have been approved for an area outside the city limits called La Défense, part of an effort to lure businesses from London post-Brexit. London is also embracing taller buildings, with now iconic towers like The Gherkin and The Shard going up in districts also heavily damaged during World War II. In fact, as of 2016 there were 430 buildings over 20 stories planned for London. A Green Belt established around the city in the mid-1800s limits the size of the city and is forcing developers to sprawl higher instead of wider.
Which means, even if the Bestseller tower in Brande is constructed, it likely won’t assume the mantle of tallest building in western Europe for long.