Making the Water Cube
by Sherif Morad Abdelmohsen, with Chuck Eastman et al.
The Beijing National Aquatics Center, often referred to as the "Water Cube," was built for the 2008 Olympic Games. The winning entry in an international design competition was submitted by the China State Construction and Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) with Arup and PTW Architects.
The Water Cube building design concept is all about water, deeply expressed in its bubbly state. The building is on the Olympic Green in Beijing, China, across from the main stadium by Herzog & de Meuron.
The structure is covered in 100,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet) of a modified copolymer called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a tough recyclable material weighing just one percent of an equivalent-sized glass panel.
The Water Cube's unique lightweight structure was developed by PTW and CSCEC with Arup. A total of 3,000 pneumatic ETFE cushions, inflated with low-pressure air and restrained in aluminum extrusions, are supported by a lightweight steel structure.
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This article is excerpted from BIM Handbook by Chuck Eastman et al., copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.