LA BOULE DES ENFANTS (Atomium, Brussels) HOTEL FOR CHILDREN. Room for 30 children, petit club sandwich, toilets, play/workshop area. Programme: a 24 hr monument for children.

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The Atomium is a symbol of the atom concept, because it represents a crystal molecule of metal. It was made in 1985, at a time when the belief in progress, science and modernity was immensely strong. Nowadays we know the project of modernity needs to be revised. The faith in progress has been tempered by slowly diminishing natural resources. For the interior design of one of the Atomium’s huge balls Framis wanted to preserve the optimism of the era when the Atomium was built, combining it with modern technologies and references to atoms and science, but in a manner that reflects the insights of the world in the 21st century. She created La boule des enfants, a space for children where they can play, eat, have workshops and sleep in the large ‘water molecules’. Water will be the gold of this century. Everything will be made out of special recycled materials. The idea was to upgrade the perception of recycled materials, by inventing combinations of high-quality materials, so that recycling will be considered classy and sophisticated. The ball of the Atomium was divided into separate functions: water molecules, a floor for workshops/playground, a ‘petit club sandwich’ and sanitary facilities.
RAIN MOLECULES Fifteen H2O molecules hang from the ceiling, three metres above the floor. These water molecules are translucent with lights inside, serving as huge lamps while suspended. The floor can then be used for workshops for children. At night the balls ‘fall’ from the sky, like raindrops. When they reach the floor they can be used as little shelters to sleep in. The space is transformed into a small city of water molecules. WORKSHOP / PLAYGROUND The floor is made of soft recycled material. During the day it is a large space with tables and chairs and objects to play with. Depending on the age of the children there are objects that can be accumulated like Russian dolls or can be used for other kinds of games. The place can be rearranged quickly. PETIT CLUB SANDWICH This is something in between a kitchen and a bar for children. Bars are important as a place to be anonymous, to meet friends and relax. This venue is made with glossy recycled material, so it looks like an ultra-modern urban space. The teacher/adult stands behind the bar serving the food and drinks.