Antwerp: The European ‘Capital of Things’
Antwerp is the economic hub of Belgium; as the Mayor of Antwerp, Bart de Wever, is fond of saying, “Antwerp is the city where the money is earned, Brussels is the city where the money is spent”. This is understandable: Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe, and the 5th largest worldwide. It therefore plays an important economic role not just in Europe but on an international scale, and this is without even mentioning its status as the global diamond trade hub. With 550,000 inhabitants who span around 174 nationalities, Antwerp is also a small but incredibly diverse city. Its slogan ‘Atypical Antwerp’ seems fitting for an economically thriving city where architectural remnants of Flemish history and culture co-exist alongside a vibrant immigrant population, and an increasing number of innovative smart city initiatives. In many ways, the economically secure yet creative Antwerp is the perfect breeding ground for smart city development, as we will explore in this article.