L’Atomium, World Exhibition – Brussels

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The construction of the & rsquo; Atomium 1957 –








Driving around & rsquo; exhibition, Brussels (Dolf Kruger)




Expo ’58, l & rsquo; Brussels World Fair: Tram, from d & rsquo; a memory View-Master reel.



Girls in the d & rsquo fashion; summer at the Brussels Fair, Expo 1958. Photo by Norman Parkinson.




At & rsquo; occasion of & rsquo; s opening & rsquo; Brussels World Fair 1958,
the youth newspaper TINTIN s & rsquo; with beautiful cover !

1958 remain in the & rsquo; history a great year : that of & rsquo; Brussels World Fair, that s & rsquo; opens tomorrow, Thursday 17 avril. Belgium, host country, offered to all participating nations a theme that is certainly the best that & rsquo; it was possible to find : “Technical and Humanism”. She asked them : “Qu & rsquo; have you done for the & rsquo; humanity ? How your scientists, your engineers, your artists do they contribute to the welfare and happiness of men ?”.
52 countries respond to this question, under that & rsquo; Belgium called, most conveniently : l’EXPO. Et l’on attend, in Brussels, between the 17 April and 19 October, some 30 * million visitors from around the world !wonderful event, so fruitful in terms of the & rsquo; international friendship, so valuable to take stock of what 52 the most important countries of the world have to offer to the & rsquo; humanity !
Begun in London, as a tribute to Blake and Mortimer, it was logical that the series ends in Brussels, capital of BD, and moreover during the & rsquo; World Expo 1958.
Note that Jacobs successors resume this period to one of their suites (the sarcophagi…). Although located 50 years back some reminiscences of & rsquo; current album are very.

© Récréabull 1986 City, Baudouin

Why have located this drawing on in years 1950 Atom Style and dear to André Franquin and conceptualized by Joost Swaarte.
When I realized my research 2002, I was reading Architectural Digest, a review of which several issues were devoted to buildings and interior design for years 1950. I wanted to push much further the concept of Franquin already put his characters in a world fueled by design.
You mentioned the meeting between Spirou and some art world, a lifestyle ... Why have placed this design on in years 1950 Atom Style and dear to André Franquin and conceptualized by Joost Swaarte.Quand I realized my research 2002, I was reading Architectural Digest, a review of which several issues were devoted to buildings and interior design for years 1950. I wanted to push much further the concept of Franquin already put his characters in a world fed by the design.Vous were talking about the meeting between Spirou and some art world, the art of life…


Witness the & rsquo; World Expo 1958, l’Atomium, spectacular symbol of & rsquo; atomic age, shows a magnified iron crystal molecule 165 billion times. Its steel structure coated with & rsquo; is composed of aluminum 9 spheres 18 meters in diameter, representing the Belgian provinces (since 1995, date of the split of Brabant, Belgium has 10 provinces). These spheres are interconnected by tubes 29 meters long and 3 meters in diameter. Each sphere has two floors. The total weight of the building is 2 400 tonnes.


Designed by & rsquo; engineer André Waterkeyn and erected by the architects André and Jean Polack, this iron molecule necessitated 18 month & rsquo; studies and many months of work.

This quasi-peak sculpture 102 meters reflected the hopes d & rsquo; a generation that had signed the Treaty of Rome and to dream of the & rsquo; orbit of the first Sputnik, well that & rsquo; it synthesized the prospects & rsquo; progress promised by the fission of & rsquo; atom.

L & rsquo; Atomium in Brussels was built for the Brussels World Exhibition 1958 (Expo ’58) on the Heysel plateau and is the main vestige. It n & rsquo; was not expected that & rsquo; it survives the & rsquo; Expo, more, its success has decided otherwise. Today & rsquo; hui yet, thanks to a major renovation in charge of public powers 2004 at 2006, c & rsquo; is a major tourist attraction in Brussels.

L & rsquo; building rises to 102 m. from above.
The nine spheres of & rsquo; Atomium represent the nine constituent atoms of iron crystal, whose & rsquo; industry was at & rsquo; time a major economic sector of the country.

Brussels World Fair –
1958 Expo Atomium vintage poster featuring !

Atomium Kidsphere

Atomium hotel curious Kidsphere, located in the capital of Belgium, of course, will d & rsquo; interest to our visitors, especially those who have children.



This building symbolizes the beginning of & rsquo; peaceful use of & rsquo; nuclear power and consists of 9 spheres (atoms). In general, the composition is a larger molecule of iron.
At & rsquo; inside are corridors and escalators, and d & rsquo; a lift that takes visitors to the highest ball, where the viewing platform and restaurant. But the above is the most interesting for adults.
But for your children to go to the & rsquo; Atomium will be a real adventure and give the’ rave experience.
The fact that one of the hotel set design balls, a playground for children.
A l’ inside, there are small spheres made of & rsquo; a translucent material and constituting a molecule & rsquo; water. They are fixed to the ceiling at a height of 3 meters and are designed for d & rsquo room; children ,
each of which can accommodate up & rsquo; to 4 people. The night, they fall to the ground, and comfortable and quiet sleeping children. The children are served breakfast and dinner. Also small guests will show a film about Belgium, talk about its cities and traditions. While, and more & rsquo; children's experiences will also be the & rsquo; educational information. The night,you can leave their children to watch the dreams in his bedroom mandatory supervision, and staff of’ hotel with peace of & rsquo; mind to go to the discovery of the Brussels night.




Besides the permanent exhibitions primarily devoted to L & rsquo; Expo 1958, various events, cultural or other, and temporary exhibitions are held periodically to & rsquo; within the & rsquo; Atomium.De the upper ball, l & rsquo; we discover a unique panorama, 360 °, s & rsquo; whole Brussels thanks not only to the height of the & rsquo; building but also its location on a raised plateau rarely périphérie.Plus, activities are organized in & rsquo; outside, as was the case in the summer in years 2008-10 for the descent into death-ride from the top of the upper ball of & rsquo; Atomium.Il says that frequently, young couples d & rsquo; s & lovers choose rsquo; Atomium to do their wedding vows.


Eight years ago, already, the Atomium underwent renovation from top to bottom, beautifully conducted by the architectural firm ORIGIN, in Brussels, whose architect Charlotte Nys is administrator.






Engineering and heritage –

After a year as an assistant at VUB, Charlotte Nys between, in 1988, office d & rsquo; B-Group Studies, as that & rsquo; structural engineer. She is actively involved in several projects, Firstly, before flying structural studies of many well-known buildings in the federal capital.
From 1996, it supports the development of & rsquo; a cell incorporating engineering and technical aspects of the & rsquo; architecture. From 1991 at 1995, she oversaw the renovation of the tower PS (P&V) Boulevard du Botanique, in Brussels. This building is the first building around Brussels (1957 – architect Van Kuyck). Its facade is made of aluminum, material they find on the & rsquo; Atomium.
From 1990 at 1998, Mrs. Nys participates in studies foreshadowing the restoration of the tower of the & rsquo; Town Hall of Brussels .... "These m & rsquo projects have gradually led to the restoration of the & rsquo; Atomium which j & rsquo; I brought my skills to the & rsquo; development and monitoring of the specifications performance loads in Heritage respect for the & rsquo; building", says she. "ORIGIN and I are proud of & rsquo; have contributed to the restoration of this remarkable work". And there is something to be proud !



Today, Charlotte Nys heads the office ORIGIN who is concerned or involved in the restoration of & rsquo; major works of the Brussels architectural and cultural heritage as the & rsquo; Sablon church, the Cathedral Saint Guidon, the Communal Forest House or even the Modern City Berchem.

"Wanted passionate engineers ! »








Originally, the Atomium should remain in place as the time of the Universal Exhibition, six months ... The Atomium is still there, brand new…
For memory, is in Brussels, in 1958, that was held the first World Exposition after the Second World War. This was a deliberate attempt to turn their backs on traditional building techniques.


Challenge met ! The flag of Belgium, designed by engineer André Waterkeyn, is a perfect example. The bold idea of ​​Waterkeyn - build a giant sculpture, accessible to the public and representing a magnified iron atom 165 billion times !
was a tribute both to the peaceful use of atomic energy and the flourishing Belgian steel industry.


New spheres, all dressed aluminum, are joined together and seem to float, light, above the central sphere exposition.La Park, from 18 meters in diameter, is surrounded by seven other spheres of the same size, while the base sphere, around which organizes the input, bigger, has a diameter of 26 m.

The tubes having a length of 22 meters 29 meters, and a diameter of 3 meters 3,30 meters, represent the binding forces between atoms. They house the stairs, escalators and the elevator that takes visitors vertically to the last level. Suffering the ravages of time, the aluminum skin of the Atomium has inevitably lost its addition éclat.En, steel parts have begun to rust and joints no longer assured sealing parfaite.La deterioration had set in gradually, due to the use of unsuitable cleaning products, the lack of corrosion protection and harmful actions of the environment - air pollution, pigeon droppings and weather.




It's in 2001 it was decided to renovate the book. The calculations and site visits set out the need to replace the aluminum panels, Plexiglas glazing as well as some structural elements.

The excellent properties of the stainless steel EN 1.4404 made him choose to replace the original aluminum. The austenitic molybdenum steel, is its unique designation, stands, indeed, by its high corrosion resistance and good formability.
In the present case, this stainless steel finishing plant underwent electro.
So, henceforth, dirt hardly adhere to the surface as smooth and shiny as a mirror,
that self-cleans in the rain.

L & rsquo; Atomium turned the heads of France 2

For his series “The towers of the world”, France 2 put in & rsquo; honor the & rsquo; Atomium.
Thank you to Francis Beaudonnet, François Lamy, Tahar Nasri, Mathieu Steenebruggen, Céline Gransard, Jean-Philippe Majewski et Thomas Dechamps.



A new coating –

The renovation of the Atomium is, in more ways than one, a challenge –
Indeed, the design and implementation of the new envelope spheres were nevertheless particularly complexes.Il was to keep, at a time, initial appearance, including the pattern layout as well as the distance between the skin and bones, taking into account the assembly constraints and current requirements for thermal insulation, acoustic insulation and fire protection. The new surface is made of sandwich panels curves 10 cm thick,with a stainless steel sheet 1.2 mm thick, outside,a galvanized steel sheet 1 mm thick, inside and, between the two, an insulating core of rock wool. Only three spheres that are not accessible,for reasons of stability, do not involve thermal insulating. Aluminum profiles with thermal bridge connecting the stainless steel sheet and galvanized sheet steel sandwich panels. To prevent any risk of galvanic corrosion between the different metals used three, they are separated by elastomer profiles.

48 panels sphere :
For each of the spheres, 48 large triangular panels were prefabricated.
The initial layout plan has, however, Optically been preserved through carrying fake seals. Finally, triangular sandwich panels are separated by strips that are the "meridians" which were equipped with external LEDs workshop. While the new panels were prefabricated in workshop, old aluminum panels were removed and the structure of the Atomium sandblasted and repainted. Not less than 50.000 m² were processed. Some parts had to be strengthened or replaced, especially, the sleeve between the tubes and spheres. The installation of new panels, a surface 16 m² and weighing 480 kg each, could begin in January 2005. To avoid large and costly scaffolding, panels upper hemispheres were positioned using cranes and those of the lower hemispheres using palans.Des assembly teams working on ropes then stared at the signs on the structure.3.000 m² explorer.Quant to the interior Atomium, it was realized also largely retaining the style of the 50. The structure, painted in a discreet gray, still apparent.


narrow escalators and stairs red stairs and clear turquoise railings connect the spheres between them and the different levels within each sphere.

In total, it has about 3.000 m2 area for exhibitions, conferences, film screenings and other events. The restaurant in the area at the top offers, with panoramic windows, an extraordinary view of the city.
With the inclusion of the fire protection measures, the installation of modern sanitary and air conditioning equipment and the renovation of the electrical installation, Atomium satisfied, henceforth, standards and safety regulations. The lighting concept, redesigned, differentiate the interior spaces according to their assignment.
The night, the Atomium is illuminated outside by projectors and small lights come on along the meridians, as in the Exhibition 1958.
"This exciting work lies at the crossroads of multiple disciplines : project management, construction techniques – Yesterday and today -, l’architecture, heritage and therefore our history and our culture. Heritage restoration is booming and we are looking, permanently, Architects and engineers passionate engineers in this field.

The engineering studies – architect and engineer can therefore carry horizons. If you like making, if you like the art, if you like architecture, if you ever want to manage projects, these studies will help you achieve your goals ".



ORIGIN Architecture & Engineering. Project manager for the renovation of the outer shell of the Atomium, ORIGIN is devoted to studies and monitoring of works and restoration of cultural heritage buildings.

ORIGIN was created, in 2001 by Michel Provost – Civil Construction, Barbara Pecheur, architect, et Charlotte Nys. ORIGIN Architecture & Engineering is a firm & rsquo; d & rsquo and architects; engineers specializing in restoration and renovation of monuments and sites, most often classified, taken on a backup list or as part of & rsquo; a remarkable heritage.






They have a diameter of 18 meters and each weigh about 250 tonnes.






Virginia Maneval

I am the daughter of Jean Benjamin Maneval, famous urban architect who notably created the Bulle Six Coques, a plastic house from the pop years. You can also find me on my Facebook page Bubblemania.fr or on my page La Bulle Six Coques by Jean Benjamin Maneval.

One thought on “L’Atomium, World Exhibition – Brussels

  1. I love this place, I had the opportunity to visit 2 time, in the years 60, at an expo on communications of the future, then in the years 90. I will return much !
    Thanks for that


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