Project Brussels, Belgium

Atomium

Curves and technical challenges

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The future is bright for Brussels’ most popular attraction following a thorough facelift. BESIX and Jacques Delens ensured the longevity of the Atomium’s trademark look with ingenious solutions that kept renovation time to a minimum.

New life

Built for the 1958 World's Fair, the Atomium was originally going to be demolished after the event. Yet after its renovation, this structure representing an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times remains standing thanks to some of the most advanced materials. Its nine spherical "atoms" are now covered in stainless steel and fitted with high-insulation glazing. New metal sheeting was also designed to retain the latticed look of the original jointing, while meeting today's fire, thermal and sound insulation standards.

Challenging curves

The need to adapt certain materials for use with spherical forms led the team to develop several custom solutions. For example, each panel containing frameworks and glazing was made individually to measure. 

The team electrolytically polished the stainless-steel cladding to obtain a smooth, shiny mirrored surface that cuts back on pollution, since the polish allows the surfaces to clean themselves whenever it rains.

Six months ahead of schedule

The project’s original 28-month schedule was cut to just 22, thanks to the brilliant solutions developed and the methods used, notably while installing panels and glazing onto tubes and spheres perched up to 100 m off the ground. After a strict analysis of the structure’s stability and wind resistance, the panels were hoisted into place using a giant crane and affixed by professional climbers.


Project details

Project name

Atomium

Contract type

Build

Location

Brussels, Belgium

Stakeholder(s)

BESIX, Jacques Delens

Client

ASBL Atomium

Building Period

2004 - 2012

Architect

AMB Group and Geocal

Total value

€ 19 million