The "Watercube," the swimming venue for the 2008 Olympics was unveiled on 1/29 after a little more than three years of construction.
The "Watercube," the swimming venue for the 2008 Olympics was unveiled on 1/29 after a little more than three years of construction. Like many other Olympic venues, this building is a contemporary piece of art. The National Aquatics Center's design and its translucent, blue-toned outside skin make it look like a cube of bubbles — like "bubble wrap." This building offers 6,000 permanent and 11,000 temporary seats. Like the 91,000-seat National Stadium — the "Bird's Nest," which will be completed in March — both are seen as works of art and will anchor the Olympic Green area. Unlike many other Olympic buildings in China, this magnificent building can be converted to a shopping area and leisure center with tennis courts, retail outlets, nightclubs and restaurants.
The outside skin is made of the Teflon-like material known as ETFE, or ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene. The maintenance could be complicated. At the unveiling it was clear the bubbles needed cleaning, because of the horrible pollution in Beijing. The exact cost of the building has been shrouded in secrecy, with estimates ranging from $150 million to more than $200 million. Much of the building was financed by $110 million in private contributions from people in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Organizers will stage a swim meet in the Watercube on Friday to test the facilities.
The Watercube and Bird's Nest are located several hundred meters yards across from each other, situated on either side of a "sacred" north-south axis and promises to shift development. The venues are five miles due north of Tiananmen Square — the world's largest public plaza — and the Forbidden City. There will be 37 venues for the Olympics. Beijing is the site of 31 — 12 new, 11 renovated, and eight temporary structures. Most are located in four clusters in the north of the city. Five more venues for soccer and sailing are located outside Beijing, and equestrian events will be held in Hong Kong.