A little less than 4 years before the crucial date, i.e. November 1954, the engineer André Waterkeyn, who wished to celebrate scientific progress, hit upon the idea of the Atomium.
This was to represent the atomic lattice of iron crystals, magnified 165 billion times linearly, according to the “cubic body centered” system. The Atomium is the visualization of microscopic molecular structures on a great enlarged scale.
The fact that the Atomium rests on a single sphere, so that the diagonal of the cube is vertical, results principally from aesthetic considerations. The three bipods which start at ground level and support the three lower spheres have therefore no symbolic significance.
The Atomium was the star of Expo 58 and it still is a worldwide attraction for tourists today.
As France has the Eiffel Tower so got Belgium its Atomium!
Location: In Boulevard du Centenaire in Heysel, Brussels
Attraction type: Monument
Significance: An engineering marvel
Best Time to visit: All through the year
Visiting hours: April to August — 9 am to 8 pm; September to March — 10 am to 6 pm
How to reach: By Metro to Heysel Station on 1A line
Nearest International Airport: Brussels International Airport
The Atomium Construction
The 9 spheres of the Atomium are at five different levels:
– The base sphere, resting on the pavilion which houses the visitors-reception area.
– The three lower spheres, connected to the ground by the stairs in the bipods which support them.
– The central sphere, the only one to be connected to all others;
– The three upper middle spheres without vertical support and the only ones inaccessible to the public.
– The uppermost sphere, which crowns the Atomium and where the visitors have a splendid view over Brussels and the Brabantine landscape.
– Each sphere contains two levels and a supplementary service floor in the lower area.
– The lower sphere is connected to the upper sphere by elevator. It is still one of the fastest in Europe !
The Atomium Restoration
The Atomium is one of the European capitals’ most famous buildings.
This extraordinary structure, designed for the Universal Exhibition in Brussels in 1958, has nevertheless aged over the years and needed a thorough renovation.The Atomium renovation project was therefore launched in 2001 under the joint auspices of the Belgian Federal State, the City of Brussels, the Brussels- Capital region and Atomium asbl. The carcassing works, entrusted to the joint venture Besix-Jacques Delens, began in March 2004 and ended before the end of the year 2005.
The Atomium renovation works entail a budget estimated at 23 milion euros. Nearly 70 % of this budget has been granted by the Federal State and the City of Brussels and the rest has been financed by Atomium asbl, representing a huge investment for an association of this kind. To balance this budget, Atomium asbl has decided to sell 1000 of the old panels covering Atomium ‘s spheres.
Weight: 2.400 metric tons
Height: 102 metres / 335 ft.
Sphere diameter: 18 metres / 59 ft.
Base pavilion diameter: 26 metres / 85 ft.
Tube diameter: 3 – 3,3 m. / 9.8 – 10.8 ft.
Tube lenght: 23 – 29 m. / 75 – 95 ft.
Longest escalator: 35 metres / 115 ft.
Capacity: 3000 people/hour
Elevator speed: 5 metres/sec / 16 ft/sec
Capacity: 22 persons