The Water Cube will be the place for 2022 Winter Olympics.
Water Cube, also (officially) known as Beijing National Aquatics Center, is an aquatics center originally designed for the indoor games, which is constructed near the Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green Precinct. It is nicknamed “Water Cube” due to the cuboid (a rectangular box) structure with the shape of the molecules of water, its construction started when the award winning Australian-based architects PTW and London-based engineering firm Ove Arup won the contract in 2008 to design and build the Olympic National Swimming Center in Beijing for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics which was chosen from the 10 proposals. The cost of construction was around $140m. The ground was broken on December 24, 2003, and the building construction was finished and handed over for use on January 28, 2008 with the build area of 80,000m². The water-filled-cuboid building is situated opposite of the main stadium in the Olympic Green Precinct, which lies at the northernmost end of Beijing’s north-south axis.
The charming thing about the design of the building is that the shape of molecules of water is used through the cuboid blocks as a mythological symbol of Chinese. During the daytime, the building reflects a blue transparent light, while after the sunset, the architecture is filled with LED-lit molecules bubbles.
(Entrance to the building)
The building is situated opposite of the main stadium in the Olympic Green Precinct, meaning the spectators at the site can witness both engineering genius. Although, it is nicknamed “Water Cube”, the building is actually a cuboid (a rectangular box), rather than a cube (a square box). It is 178 meters (584 ft) wide and 31 meters (102 ft) high. Residential buildings doesn’t reside around the area of these buildings.
(The National Aquatics Center at night)
The building has a capacity of 17,000. During the 2008 Olympics, the capacity was reduced to 7,000. It also has a total land surface of 65,000 square meters and will cover a total of 32,000 square meters (7.9 acres).
(The construction phase of the building)
Conceptually, the square box and the interior spaces are carved out of an undefined cluster of foam bubbles, symbolizing a condition of nature that is transformed into a condition of culture. The overall appearance of the aquatic center is a cube of water molecules.
(The conceptual design of the interior)
The space between the air-pillow walls has been completely sealed off creating a layer of insulation. During summer, a 1m-high vent regulates the indoor temperature of the building through heat exchange by drawing out the inside warm air and letting in the outside cool air. The vent is sealed off during winter maintaining the warm temperature inside the venue.
(Building under construction in the daytime)
In order to prevent the dew dropping from the roof of the building which could affect the swimmers and the spectators, the designers used the ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) and air conditioning systems, which greatly helped in preventing dew dropping. Apart from ETFE, the building has been provided a good air supply, ventilation holes, return inlets and exhaust outlets, thus further improving the ventilation in the upper spaces of the building. All this has been done to ensure the maximum pleasure for the people inside!
Complex designs result in challenging a design stabilization problem. The architects of Water Cube were clever to use the ETFE, which will help the building last for at least 100 years without the deformation. The best thing about ETFE is the strength of its membrane which deteriorates far less than other materials, thus making the material highly suitable for the building. The building has a fluent transmission of light; they assure that electricity won’t turn off! Apart from that, the ETFE membrane is highly resistant to fire and severe heat. It also possesses great ductility and crushing resistance. It is self-cleaning in nature, meaning the friction coefficient of the material prevents the dust from forming a layer on the material and rain can easily clear away the dust. The use of ETFE allows more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30% decrease in energy costs
Building’s envelope uses 100,000m² of ETFE, making it the largest ETFE structure in the world. The ETFE used was produced by Vector-Foiltec of Germany and Yuanda Group of Shengyang, China.
(The audience watching the magnificent scene of a swimming pool)
The Water Cube hosted the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Originally, the Water polo was planned to be hosted in the venue but it was later moved to the Ying Tung Natatorium. Water Cube can also be considered the fastest Olympic pool in the world with 1.314 meters deeper than most Olympic pools, however, the London 2012 Aquatics Center also has the same depth, which leads many people to believe the London pool is as fast as, if not faster than, the Water Cube’s pool. The best thing about deep pools is that swimmers lose their sense of vision up to a certain limit, because the deeper pools allow the waves to dissipate to the bottom, leading to less water disturbance to the swimmers. In order to absorb the remaining waves, the pool has perforated gutters on both sides. The walls surrounding the pool reflect the lightning, giving an aura effect.
In the 2008 Olympics, The Aquatics Center saw 25 world records broken in the Beijing Olympics, however, all the records broken were accomplished by athletes using the super-slick swimwear which have become banned at the beginning of the 2010 season by the International Swimming Federation (FINA).
(2008 Olympics Swimming Pool)
The “Water Cube” as the nickname of the building references Chinese symbolic architecture. The Water Cube’s design was initiated by the combined team efforts of the Chinese partners who felt that a square is symbolic to Chinese culture having a relationship to the Bird’s Nest stadium and the ideas of Sydney based partners of covering the ‘cube’ with bubbles, symbolizing water. Contextually, the cube in the design symbolizes earth whilst the circle (represented by the stadium) represents heaven.
(The spectators around the building)
Following are some of the properties of building:
“The special award for the most accomplished work in the section Atmosphere is awarded to the Australian architecture firm PTW Architects, CSCEC + Design and Arup for the project National Swimming Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, China. The project demonstrates in a stunning way, how the deliberate morphing of molecular science, architecture and phenomenology can create an airy and misty atmosphere for a personal experience of water leisure”
— Quote from the Jury report of the Official Awards 9th International Architecture Exhibition – METAMORPH, Venice Biennale
After the Olympics ended, the venue is now open for the public on select days of the week beginning in June 2009, and was also used as the site for a production of Swan Lake amongst other shows. The design of the building has won 5 awards, including Venice Biennale award for most accomplished work Atmosphere section, Popular Science for Best of what’s new 2006 in engineering, NSW ‘Project of the Year’ award from the Australian Institute of Project Management, 40th annual MacRobert Award and International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering 2010 Outstanding Structure Award
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