Sports, business & technology

Spongebob has nothing on the Water Cube

water-cube.jpgThe 16th FINA World Cup – a tune-up to the Summer Olympics in August – concluded Sunday with diving powerhouse China, fittingly, taking gold in seven of the eight events held in Beijing.

The star of the event, though, was the venue. Nicknamed the “Water Cube,” the Olympic swimming venue was designed by Australian architecture firm PTW and resembles a slice of bubbles.

Just one part of an environmentally-friendly building, these bubbles are actually air cushions made out of a material called ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene). EFTE has been used in a variety of buildings across Europe, including London’s Heathrow Airport and the Allianz Arena (home to Bayern Munich), and its resilience is staggering: it resists heat, collects rainwater (which drains to tanks and is subsequently recycled), and repels dust and hailstones. The roof allows hot air to escape, which is especially important when the humidity of the polluted Beijing air mixes with the indoor humidity of an aquatic venue. The ETFE bubbles also have a direct effect indoors. They’re able to deflect bright sunlight so spectators aren’t blinded when they try to watch Michael Phelps race.

The bubbles don’t even begin to tell the story. The building has an air-conditioning system that uses recycled hot water, recycles outdoor and indoor air, and is solar-powered. It’s even “for the birds;” the spongy façade is specifically wired so that winged creatures can lounge without messing with the water collection system (although you can’t call it the “Bird’s Nest” – that is the nickname for the National Stadium, where the track and field events will take place).

If you will sadly be watching the Olympics from home as I will, you can get a sense for what the “Water Cube” is like by watching this CCTV report:


February 27, 2008 - Posted by | Olympics, swimming | ,


  1. […] February, I mentioned that I would sadly be watching the Olympics from home. This turned out not to be the case, and I returned this past week from what has shaped up to be a […]

    Pingback by Olympics: Good. Cartan Tours: BAD. « Sportsbiztech | August 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. this is the most amazing building I have ever seen. Iam a swimmer myself and iam hoping to get into the 2016 olympics.

    Comment by maddie c | November 28, 2009 | Reply

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