An enormous abstract Christmas tree has been unveiled at the center of Brussels, though some are displeased with the city's modern take on holiday tradition. Created by French collective 1024 Architecture, the "Abies Electronicus" is an 82-foot steel-ribbed installation that replaces the real pine tree typically on display at the city's central square. Every night, the structure comes to life with a light and sound show, replete with shimmering lights, glowing cubes, and a mix of both holiday and industrial music. And unlike traditional trees, visitors can actually climb to the top of the Abies Electronicus for a panoramic view of the city. (See it in action in the below video, taken from a 2010 holiday fair in the French village of Guebwiller.)
The Aibes Electronicus went on display last week, but it's already come under fire from those who see it as a misguided attempt at political correctness. Nearly 25,000 people have signed an online petition against the tree, calling for officials to respect the city's "values and traditions." To some, the debate only underscores larger social issues in Belgium, where shifting demographics have resulted in often heated political tensions, but Councilor Philippe Close says his municipality was simply trying to add a new flavor to this year's holiday festivities. "What we want is just to modernise the pleasure of winter, of this Christmas market and all the image of Brussels," Close told the BBC.