Water cube – Beijing

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/// Water cube – Beijing

In July 2003, PTW architects and engineering firm Ove Arup won the contract to design and build the Olympic National Swimming Centre in Beijing. In partnership with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and the CSCEC Shenzhen Design Institute (CSCEC+DESIGN) the water cube had been designed. The concept for the building was based on cluster of foam bubbles in a square box, according to the importance of the square shape in Chinese tradition and mythology.

The Ove Arup / PTW design focused on the geometry of water bubbles within a square form. The facade consists of two parts, the external structural framework forms the actual roof, ceiling and walls made of rectangular boxed sections, which then these sections had been covered with ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). The internal steel frame is based on the geometry of soap bubbles, which two Irish professors of physics at Trinity College had found the solution for the structural concept needed for this geometry. Over 22.000 stainless steel members had been welded at the joints to form the bubbles’ sides. One of the main challenges that faced the designers was to convince the Chinese authorities of the value of ETFE.

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