Atomium makeover costs soar
11 January 2004
BRUSSELS – The costs of giving Brussels’ Atomium a facelift are spiralling upwards, it emerged on Tuesday.
La Derniere Heure reported that the price of steel had doubled in 2004, due to demand from China, and that means the bill is soaring to renovate Brussels’ most famous landmark.
The balls of the giant iron atom at Heysel are being re-plated in weather-resistant steel, instead of Atomium, in a bid to restore them to the shiny state they were in back in 1958.
The new steel prices have resulted in an extra cost of EUR 2.5 million for 2005. The government is meeting the bill, which comes on top of the existing costs of EUR 24 million, which are being met by the government, the Brussels’ regional government and the non-profit organisation Atomium, which runs the monument.
It looks as if other aspects of the restoration work will also go over-budget. Atomium’s management now wants to install a more sophisticated form of air-conditioning, which would cost more than the system originally envisaged.
“Originally, we intended to have minimal air-conditioning, but it’s clear to us that it’s important to guarantee a constant changing of the air in the balls,” said Diane Hennebert, Atomium’s director.
The government has said who foots the bill for future overspends will be discussed between the funding parties.
In preparation for the new steel plaques, workers are currently dismantling the 9,000 Atomium plates. A total of 1,000 of them are being sold to anyone interested for EUR 1,000 each. Half the plates have already being reserved.
Hennebert said it was clear people were emotionally attached to the Atomium.
“One person has bought 10 plates to put in his garden, another person has bought three to give to the children,” said Hennebert. “There is a strong link with this monument.”
The renovation work is due to be finished by next January.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news