- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 15 May 2018
The Atomium, in Brussels, Belgium, was the main pavilion and iconic image of the World Fair of 1958 (Expo 58). It is now a museum and tourist attraction. The building is 102 m (335 ft) tall, and consists of nine interconnected spheres, representing an elementary iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times.
The philosophy behind the design, by the engineer Andre Waterkeyn, was that it would symbolise a positive and democratic faith in technological progress and offer an optimistic vision of a modern scientific future.
The Atomium is made up of 8 spheres at the apexes of the structure, and 1 in the centre, each 18 m (59 ft) in diameter. The 9 spheres are connected by 20 tubes, each 29 m long. The whole composition rests on 3 supporting structures.
Stairs, escalators and a lift allow access to five of the spheres which are open to the public, and contain exhibition halls. The highest sphere contains a restaurant with panoramic views of Brussels.
In 2004, renovation works began, and lasted nearly 3 years. These works included replacing the aluminium cladding with stainless steel. The aluminium was sold as souvenirs to help pay for the renovation.
Despite originally being intended as a temporary structure, its popularity and success led to it becoming a permanent landmark and a national symbol of Belgium.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Ark Encounter, Kentucky.
- Blur Building.
- Building of the week series.
- Cube Houses.
- Dali Theatre and Museum.
- Dunmore Pineapple.
- Lotus Temple.
- Robot Building, Bangkok.
- Sage Gateshead.
- The Big Basket.
- Theme Building, LAX
- Titanic Belfast.
- Unusual building design of the week.
 External references
Featured articles and news
New BSRIA guide provides a structured approach for identifying and achieving success criteria.
People, traffic and historic townscapes.
A remote plateau in Bulgaria has been the focus of international preservation efforts.
Dynamo packages data ready for Revit.
How does EVA rate a project's progress?
How can it benefit the built environment?
The benefits of early contractor involvement.
Why it is so important for health and wellbeing.
A highly effective method of managing supply chains.
How it can benefit construction.
Free guide to commissioning for site managers published by NHBC and BSRIA.