what I'm doing, what I'm seeing, what I'm thinking

29/11/2011

Brussels sputnik a.k.a. the Atomium

I don't know how this fantastic structure managed to lurk unseen in the shadows during my previous Brussels visits - I must have had my eyes too much at street level checking out the fab old-style brasseries- anyway, I was thrilled to finally come across this bizarre GIANT monument to the atom which turns out also to be a quintessential piece of mid-century sculpture.

The Atomium was built for Expo 1958 - the Brussels World Fair. It was designed by Andre Waterkyn. It has nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times - apparently.


But the best thing - you can actually go inside it!


This is looking up through the glass roof of the lift as it hurtles up to the top sphere.


And wizzing up one of the escalators.  Very hard to believe when you're inside the Atomium that you're actually travelling along the steel tubes linking the spheres.






The inside of the structure reminded me of the inside of large ships - all steel sheets and rivets and complex shapes welded together.






A really fantastic structure - so space-age, well, space-age 1950s-style.







 
How great is this?? Even the banisters are atomic.

























 




I took this photo while on the escalator, looking up through the portholes, hoping to catch.................


A shot of one of the atoms!!







Now this has got to be one of the coolest restaurants on the planet. It's in the very top sphere and I am definitely having lunch there next time I go to Brussels.





In this sphere is a kind of Youth Hostel for young people - they sleep in 'atom pods'. !!


Needless to say, the view from the top was amazing - despite the November mist.














Needless to say, the view from the top is amazing - despite the November mist.


The Atomium was scheduled for demolition after the Expo - thank goodness they had second thoughts!  

You might like my other Brussels posts:

2 comments:

  1. This so "Dan Dare", 1958 I would have been counting the days till the next Eagle Comic dropped through our letter box. I told you about Jonathan Meades when we were talking about Brussels, I looked him up and you can get dozens of his TV shows from Amazon but youtube has dozens more than I ever saw on TV, Brussels in about three parts was so over the top I skipped sending you the link but the Atomium did loom behind him in one bit I watched, there was one on Liege too where he compared it to Halifax but concluded Belgium had the ultimate Northern Mill Town!! I knew son-in-law Gavin would love this, would you believe it he said 'I went there in 1991 and it looks just the same, restaurant and all, just one thing they had some tiny Belgian make of motor driving up the escalators???' I know Justin is nuts about planes, the detail of the surface is so like an English Electric Lightning, did you see the planes in Tate Britain, the stainless steel one really had this same Space Odyssey look!

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  2. I loved it, had a couple of trips now to take pictures while I'm living in Brussels. Have a look at them here
    http://www.brussels-blog.co.uk/atomium-revisited/

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