Beijing 2008: A Look at "The Water Cube"

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IAugust 13, 2008

The Beijing National Aquatics Centre (pictured above, left—the Beijing National Stadium is on the right), also known as "The Water Cube," will host the swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming events during the Olympics.

The structure was built by CSCEC (China State Construction Engineering Corporation). Comprising a steel space frame, it is the largest ETFE clad structure in the world, with over 100,000 m² of ETFE pillows that are only 0.2 mm (1/125 of an inch) in total thickness.

The ETFE (a kind of plastic) cladding allows more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30 percent decrease in energy costs.

The outer wall is based on the Weaire-Phelan (a foam structure formed by soap bubbles). The pattern is formed by taking a slice through the foam, and it was chosen in preference to the Kelvin foam because the more complex Weaire-Phelan structure results in more irregular, organic patterns than slices through the regular Kelvin foam.

The arena will have a capacity of 17,000 during the games, which will be reduced to 6,000 afterwards. 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).

Many people believe The Water Cube to be the fastest Olympic pool in the world. It has a depth of sculpture meters—a meter deeper than most Olympic pools. Deeper pools reduce the water disturbance, leading to faster swimmers.

Coupled with the newly introduced faster Speedo LZR Racer swim suit, and with Michael Phelps swimming in the centre lane—it is expected that many records will fall in the pool during the Beijing Olympics.