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'The Water Cube', National Swimming Center, Beijing, China


Project description

In July 2003, the consortium of Arup, architecture firm PTW, the CSCEC (China State Construction and Engineering Corporation) and the CSCEC Shenzhen Design Institute (CSCEC+DESIGN) won the international design competition for the National Swimming Center for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

To arrive at the building's structural design, which is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles to give a random, organic appearance, we used research undertaken by Weaire and Phelan (Professors of Physics at Trinity College, Dublin) into how soap bubbles might be arranged in an infinite array.

(see: FoamPhysics)

Tristram Carfrae (Arup team leader)

We realized that a structure based on this unique geometry would be highly repetitive and buildable whilst appearing very organic and random. Indeed such space filling patterns are regularly observed in biological cells and mineral crystals, they are probably the most common structure in nature. Also the ductile space frame that is generated from this geometry is ideally suited to the seismic conditions found in Beijing.

Chris Bosse - bubbleboy

Born in 1971 in Stuttgart, Chris Bosse was educated in Germany and Switzerland and worked in several European architecture firms. His postgraduate degree at the University of Stuttgart dealt with the implication of virtual worlds into architecture. With (Mad Oreyzi) he developed the Bubble-Highrise for Berlin in 2002 (a+u 05:01). Since 2003 he has been working with PTW Architects in Sydney on many high-profile projects in China, Vietnam and Middle East. PTW has recently started a number of projects in various parts of Japan. The project for the National Swimming Center for Beijing 2008, called the Watercube, received the Atmosphere Award at the 9th Venice Biennale and is under construction since 2004. The MOT Marquee in Melbourne explored his interest in unusual structures in a freeform interior based on the physics of champagne bubbles and minimal surfaces. The work is widely published and Chris guest-lectures at various universities.

related links


The system consists of three different steel nodes and steel members that will be fabricated from steel plate and bolted together on site.

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