The Beijing Water Cube
Water Cube is set to
make a splash for the 2008 Olympics.
China is no doubt one the most remarkable
places in the world today, particularly in terms of
its architectural marvels. Its buildings, many of
them epic in size and design, range from the ancient to the high-tech and
modern. National Geographic Channel's China Special Month is about the stories
of the modern-day architectural projects in China that are producing amazing new
buildings for the world to enjoy.
Beijing Water Cube is one of the programs in
this series, and it is very much about the modern as
opposed to the ancient. The Beijing Water Cube is a building for the
Beijing 2008 Olympics. The building, which will be the National Aquatics Center,
is indeed in the shape of a cube, but its
appearance is far from run-of-the-mill. It is made
of a steel honeycomb-like frame covered in a unique skin that is modeled after
soap bubbles. Simply put, the effect is that the
Water Cube looks like an enormous cube-shaped bundle of bubbles.
The bubbles are made of a plastic called
ETFE, which is also used to protect spaceships from cosmic radiation. One of the
advantages of ETFE is that it traps solar energy in the winter and
reflects it in the summer, helping to control the building's temperature.
3,500 bubbles had to be cut individually and sized
in order to create the honeycomb-like structure. The bubbles are not
identical or symmetrical, but seem to be organized
randomly, with different shapes and sizes nestled together. Despite its
random appearance, however, the soap-bubble
structure used in the design has a geometry that's perfect for a high-tech
building. Soap bubbles actually always cling
together in regular patterns, and the fragile-looking skin of the building's
bubbles—the plastic covering is only 1/5 of a millimeter thick! — is entirely
Tune in to Beijing Water Cube to get the
full story on this incredible new structure.