The 1950s proved to be, in our western world, the most creative and innovative of the 20th century. Architecture, furniture, automobile, fashion, design, everything was reinvented in such a typical style. The post-war period opened the door wide to consumption, novelty and optimism, all trends that came from the United States.
The public was ready, yearning for a new life.
Belgian architects have not missed this trend and have redesigned our cities. In Brussels, it was the organization of the 1958 Universal Exhibition, the first to be held after the Second World War, which kick-started modernity.
Of course, mistakes were made, including the destruction of emblematic buildings, or the construction of the long Boulevard Léopold II viaduct, among others.
New neighborhoods were born, large modern buildings were springing up everywhere.
To welcome the many visitors expected from all over the world for Expo 58, Brussels had to equip the city with a state-of-the-art terminal.
After consultation, 3 architects from the 3 regions were called upon.
They designed the Skyhall, a freestanding structure, with a magnificent curved ceiling 100 meters long by 55 wide and 18 high, which seems suspended, a real technical feat!
The large 1800 m2 curved bay window, also an innovation, directs the gaze towards the runways and the airplanes ballets.
All supported by light and almost invisible metal structures. A floating footbridge supported by very “fifties” V-shaped red pillars crosses the hall from side to side.
At the time you could, from there, greet departing travelers one last time, the plane was a luxury that few people could afford, and which made people dream.
In the early years the Skyhall was decorated with elegant modern furniture, then gradually, due to trade, the duty-free shops have somewhat disfigured it.
This mythical hall lost its functions in 1994 to finally be decommissioned in 2002 following the construction of new terminals A and B.
Unoccupied for several years, it has now been restored to the rules of the art and has regained its former splendor while retaining its original structure.
They were even able to keep the original uneven slab floor intact, so typical.
Since the beginning of 2020, marking a new chapter in the history of the airport, this majestic Skyhall has served as a venue for prestigious events, and thus revives the glamor that surrounded it for almost 40 years.
Incorporating a multitude of conference rooms, the Skyhall is available to host events of all kinds.
Prestigious events in an architecture witness to the past, looking to the future.
In the smallest details
To complete the Skyhall, Sabena entrusted Alfred Hendrickx with the interior layout of this space intended to welcome visitors from all over the world for Expo 58.
Alfred Hendrickx, one of the greatest Belgian designers of the post-war period, created a very elegant armchair with a design typical of this period, the S3.
Today, you might think this armchair is contemporary, its lines are so pure and elegant.
With its dynamic design, so simple on its 3 legs, the perfect inclination of the backrest and the seat, the S3 is a call to settle down comfortably.
In the Skyhall, 150 S3 armchairs, covered with tweed, available in 3 primary colors (blue, red, mustard yellow) awaited travelers.
Having become rare – there would only be around fifty left – the S3 is sought after by collectors. You can admire a copy at the Design Museum Brussels, right next to the Atomium, also an emblem and vestige of Expo 58. A must.
L’architecture moderne à l’Expo 58
By Rika Devos & Mil De Kooning
Publisher: Fond Mercator
By Thierry Belenger & Elisabeth Horth
Publisher: Atomium éditions et CFC éditions
ISBN : 978-2-87572-002-3