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Lockdown at the World’s Fairground in Autumn • Brussels, Belgium


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That was an interesting experience, travelling to Brussels for a job right at the time in November 2020 when the city was in complete lockdown, because of that virus we all learned to hate and probably have to learn to live with in the long term. We were brought from the hotel to the venue and back in black vans by a shuttle service every day with hygienic measures everywhere all the time. Because of the lockdown measures, we sadly had no chance of strolling around the city to explore its many churches, great Art Deco / Art Nouveau and more recent architecture or even meet some locals to catch the belgian feeling at all.

On the other hand it was autumn, which is always good for some interesting light, and the venue wasn’t just any fairground, it was the famous World’s Fairground with some pretty impresssive architecture and the iconic Atomium located at the district of Laeken on the Heysel Plateau.

The Atomium

Since we spent most of our time on location at the venue one favorite photo motif was of course the iconic, about 3,5 thousand tons heavy, Atomium with its 9 spheres.

This impressive model of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times was built for the 1958 World’s Fair and almost completely renewed in 2005 for around 23 billion Euros and reopened in 2006.

The old aluminium cover was almost blind before it was replaced with special 316L stainless steel plates and the old triangular 6kg aluminium pieces were sold for 1000 Euros each after the renovation.

As you can see in this photo the Atomium is beautifully lit at night, too.

Here i got a little creative with that great landmark. By the way, all the photos in this article are shot on an iPhone 11 Pro Max. I must say i’m pretty happy with the results and i almost didn’t miss my heavy dslr camera. 

Since were already here i have a little ‘fruit fact’ for you. They have fig trees at the sides of the streets next to the Atomium. What a pity that they weren’t ripe at the time.

Intermezzo

Before we go on to discover more of the World’s Fairground i have to give you a little peak of a few things we had to deal with every day besides the mandatory hygienic measures. One of them was this hilariously designed hotel floor which i called the “Psychedelic Green Screen Floor” at first sight. Imagine seeing this first thing in the morning when leaving your room and again in the evening when coming back from the venue where we were looking literally at hundreds of computer screens for hours for the show we did there.

Another thing was the catering situation in times of the so called ‘social distancing’. Sitting at those tables to eat being watched by the local ‘hygienic officer’ or getting out of the venue to get some fresh air were the only times we could take off our masks. One of the highlights was the very nice french catering guy who really was an absolute sunshine. He even organized some original belgian chocolate for us to take home since we couldn’t go shopping because of the lockdown.

The following photo is the only shot i got from Brussels outside of the World’s Fairground on the only day we were brought to the venue at daytime because work started later that day. All the other days it was dark on the way to and dark on the way back from the venue.

Here you see a ‘drive by’ shot of the Church of Our Lady of Laeken in the district of Laeken in Brussels from inside one of our shuttle vans with another right in front of us.

And last but not least for the ‘Intermezzo’ and to get you ready for some architectural mayhem here’s a shot of Expo Hall 10 for geometry lovers as seen from the front of our show venue hence that’s what we saw everytime we stepped outside for fresh air and some mask free time.

Grand Palais

Now let’s get stunned by the monumental show piece Expo Hall 5 also known as the Grand Palais or Eeuwfeestpaleis that was built as the first of five halls for the 1935 World’s Fair in Art Deco style. What a building!

This hall is absolutely massive, it has about 13.000 square meters of event space on the inside with a maximum height of 31 meters. Have a look at the belly of the whale here.

And a wide angle shot from one of the corners of the space.

Back on the outside here are two sunset shots which give a good impression of the size of this building.

Another one from the front of the hall looking at hall 2 and 4 with a very nice sunset sky in the background.

Details of the Grand Palais

Now let’s look at some details of that monumental beauty. Here with a ‘colorsplash’ image including a reflection of the Atomium.

The center door of the main entrance. Again with a reflection of the Atomium. That thing is hard to avoid!

Standing here and taking a ‘look up’ shot is mandatory, don’t you think so, too?!

Epic Sunrise at the Grand Palais

The main entrance again, but this time lit by the sun at sunrise instead of sunset. The light that morning was absolutely breathtaking and yes, sure, i took some more shots of the building in this fantastic light for you to enjoy.

This is not overdone in edit, the sunlight that morning was so absolutely intense i almost couldn’t believe it myself.

That was the exact perfect moment for getting a closeup shot of those statues on top of the building. At least as close as the telephoto lens of my phone could get.

The “Ivy Lamps” of the Grand Palais

Maybe you noticed the ‘tons’ in front of the hall in the images before. These are big cylindrical lamps and the detail i liked the most about them, besides the interesting patina, was the ivy growing around and inside of them.

Ooops, the Atomium again.

And again, this time close to sunset.

And here you can see the ivy growing inside of a lamp up close with that stunning intense sunrise light.

I didn’t expect much from our lockdown job visit here in Brussels, but in the end i was very happy with what i got to see and shoot here. And to close our little expo excursion  i have ...

... two more things!

One very important thing to do in Belgium is to taste the famous belgian chocolate and here is one very tasty fantastic belgian Mousse au Chocolat to water your mouth.

The second thing is a memory from childhood and a nice surprise to find at the Brussels airport when we were checking in to travel back home to Berlin. The famous rocket from the Tin Tin comic! 

Still here? Great!

I hoped you enjoyed my little excursion at the Brussels Expo in autumn while the city was in lockdown and could breathe in at least a little of the World’s Fairground feeling from it.

Thank you for reading
See you when enjoying my next post
• Stay healthy • be open minded and curious •
• wherever you are • wherever life takes you •

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