UFO Flying Saucer Architecture

15 01 2010






I remember visiting the Evoluon with my parents as a young kid when I was about 8 years old. The building and its exhibit left such a profound impact on me that I have been dreaming of the world of tomorrow ever since. Like Logan’s Run but without the Carousel perhaps.

Teach children that the world can be a beautiful place.
Show them the best of the best.

Travel, take them to a museum, show them the structural beauty of a flower, make them see.

1960’s: Evoluon was constructed in 1963. Evoluon was a futuristic flying saucer shaped architectural wonderland where children could learn about technologies of the future. A space age wonderland where adults and children could experience an almost extra terrestrial living world of tomorrow. Evoluon started out as a permanent exhibition space for the general public, as dr. ir. Frits Philips wanted it to be. It was somewhere for young and old to learn more about science and technology in a straightforward, hands-on manner.

The inspiration for the Evoluon Eindhoven came in the 1950s. Philips surprised everyone with its pavilion at the first post-war trade fair, the Brussels World Fair. ‘Le Poème Electronique’ attracted more than 1 million visitors within the space of six months. The cost of such a temporary exhibition was, however, quite substantial.

One evening, when Frits Philips was dining with Louis Kalff, his artistic right-hand man, they once again discussed the idea of setting up a permanent exhibition space. The story is that Louis Kalff then sketched 3 striking buildings, one of which was the futuristic-looking flying saucer.

In 1963 work got under way to build the Evoluon Eindhoven. Partly due to the extremely harsh winters, it was in many ways a difficult feat and quite incredible that the company was able to celebrate its completion as early as 1966. Philips’ anniversary gift to the city of Eindhoven and its people was ready.


1970’s:
Evoluon enjoyed huge popularity as a public attraction from the day it opened until the very early 1980s. Its best year was in 1970, when a staggering 527,000 visitors passed through its entrance doors to enjoy an unforgettable visit to an interactive exhibition.

Visitors still remember clearly the red ‘counters’ above the door to record the number of people coming in.

A host of exciting topics were addressed in the 3 concentric ‘rings’ – health, modern comforts, leisure, the importance of science and technology, communication and traffic as well as the problem of the world’s continuously expanding population.

A number of topics were dealt with in greater detail. For example, the way radar, telephone, satellite, television and a host of other modern products work was explained to the general public in an accessible manner.


The interactive nature of the exhibits played an important role.


People could learn about things in a playful way and this turned learning into an experience.

1980’s: It became increasingly difficult to keep the interactive exhibition fresh and interesting. It was not just the fact that innovations were taking place so quickly, the costs were also starting to spiral out of control, and year after year it was Philips that had to foot the bill.

People started to find the scientific exhibition less attractive. In 1988 the number of visitors was only a third of those in the Evoluon’s heyday. Philips started to consider new ways to use the building.

External research bureaus were called in to help examine every possibility. Unfortunately, they did not come up with a formula that would ensure continued public access to the building.

Jan Timmer, the Philips president at the time, pushed for the Evoluon to be converted into a reception and exhibition space for the Philips product divisions and their clients.

The structure, its interiors and original elevator remain pretty much in their original shape. Evoluon serves today as a convention center.

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