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Travel Europe Belgium The size does matters - Atomium

The size does matters - Atomium

Brussels, Belgium, Atomium overview

The Heysel Plateau in Brussels is a special aluminum and steel structure in the form of an iron crystal: the Atomium. Engineer Andre Waterkeyn designed the building for the 1958 World Fair in Brussels. In 1956 they started construction.

The Atomium represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It has a height of 102 meters and the nine balls (atoms) have a diameter of 18 meters. The shape of the Atomium is a cube with a diagonal to a vertical rest of the bulbs. This centered cube system was too big a point to rest. Therefore, using three support poles , bipods called the three lower spheres supported. Bipods also offered the place on the stairs for visitors to the Atomium.

Besides the bipods also carries a huge concrete foundation to the stability of the structure. The 123 concrete piles of the foundation over 17 meters were driven into the ground to form the backbone of the Atomium.

The truss of the structure is built of steel and the spheres are coated with aluminum. The dimension of the Atomium was a good picture of the atomic structure, while also large enough for the visitors. The connecting tubes that the attraction between the atoms, had the right proportions with the bulbs have, the connecting tubes to middle ball have a diameter of 3.3 meters, while the tubes on the edge have a diameter of 2.9 meters. This size difference is due to purely aesthetic reasons.

Six of the nine spheres are open to visitors: the bottom, the three above, the middle and top bulb. The other three spheres are not supported vertically and closed to the public. Visitors via stairs, escalators and a central elevator run by the Atomium. The upper sphere is a restaurant and a viewing platform.
The coating is applied in the form of aluminum tiles, shaped as spherical triangles. It was to take into account a difference in thermal expansion coefficient between the aluminum coating and the steel framework.

Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Atomium in Brussels was intended as a temporary structure after the World Fair exhibition would be demolished. The shiny iron molecule was so popular that remains a major landmark icon in the Brussels landscape.