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Every once in a while I have to stop thinking about libraries and post something that is just plain cool. That usually is something architecture or design related, and its a safe bet that in a week or two I’ll find a way to relate it back to public spaces.  For now, it is just fun.

I was watching an old music video by Front 242 called “Headhunter” the other day and was reminded of the Atomium building, built for the 1958 World Fair Expo in Belgium.

atomium-sm.jpg

From the official web site:

“The Atomium is a symbol of the atom concept, because it represents an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times. In this crystal system, the atoms are placed on the vertexes of a cube, and one atom occupies its center. The elementary centered cubic system is composed of 9 atoms. In crystal chemistry, the structure of crystals is commonly represented by spheres the centers of which materialise the mean position of the atom in the crystal network ; the binding forces which exist between the atoms are materialised by links interconnecting the spheres. These binding forces are the essential cause of the chemical properties and the mechanical resistance of the different elements, and particularly metals ; if is thus perfectly logical to clearly mark their existence in any representation of crystals.

Starting from the basic idea of an iron crystal at atomic scale as a symbol – which was suitable for both the metal industry, promoter of the project, and the Exhibition, I thought of considerably increasing (in fact, 165 billion times) the distances which separate the centers of the atom in the cristalline system, so as turn them into a construction in which the spheres representing the atoms would be of sufficient size to house the exhibits relative to this branch of science. The public had to be able to move from one sphere to the other without effort, which meant placing escalators in the inclined tubes representing the binding forces ; this condition led to choice of diameter for the interconnecting tubes. The dimensions which I initially proposed for the actual spheres (a diameter of about 65.6 ft) were not directly scaled up from the actual steel atom dimensions because, if this had been the case, they would have been larger. The diameter finally chosen (59 ft) was a compromise between a hall of suitable size and practicability of construction.”

And here watch the awkwardly dated Front 242 video, as it channels Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and others. Great modernist architecture pictured here, if anyone knows what some of the other buildings pictured are I’d love to hear from them. Enjoy.

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One Comment

  1. Wow, that’s really cool Nate. Love the blog, keep it up!


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