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Modern Architecture Atomium

The Atomium is one of the great icons of mid century modern architecture. The Atomium was designed by André Waterkeyn (1917-2005) for the architectural firm; La Construction Soudee nv. Built for the world expo of 1958 in Brussels - Belgium, the Atomium still stands today and was just renovated. Well worth the trip across the Atlantic since Belgium has plenty additional mid century modern buildings. The 1958 world fair had some spectacular pieces of mid century modern architecture as a central attraction. Most of them did not survive but some important monuments do, including the Atomium.

This oddity, to symbolize the atom age, was based on the atoms of the ice crystal. The Atomium is 334 feet high and represents a crystal enlarged about 200 billion times. It was originally designed to be 460 feet high but this plan had to be abandoned because of the danger to aircraft.

The nine spheres of the Atomium are connected to each other by large tubes containing escalators or stairways to reach the spheres. To make the tubes less noticeable, they where covered with a paint camouflage while the spheres of highly polished aluminum shine brightly. Flashing lights where installed around each sphere to represent the orbits of electrons around the atom nucleus. Each sphere is 59 feet in diameter, some being provided with two floors and others with three. Inside the majority of the spheres is exhibition space available to the public or for special events.

The central shaft includes an elevator which is capable of carrying about 20 persons per trip. This elevator carries people to the topmost sphere where they will find a first-class restaurant and a magnificent view. From here visitors will be able to see the city of Brussels and its surrounding country side, the Royal Palace of Laeken and, in the far distance, the field of Waterloo.

The Atomium has a complete system of ventilation as the interior of the spheres would otherwise get very hot on summer days. Each sphere was electrically lighted and there glass-fiber portholes where installed to let in daylight.

Many engineering problems have had to be overcome in the designing and building of the Atomium, particularly the main foundation at the base of the central shaft which carries most of the weight of the Atomium.

The Atomium is open for visitors.
Check out the website for directions and opening hours:

Brussels Expo Poster by Maurice Leclercq

Brussels Expo Poster by Leo Marfurt

Brussels Expo Poster by Jacques Richez