Monday, January 28, 2008


The building has an eco-friendly translucent shell. Beijing Olympic officials have officially unveiled the bubble-wrapped National Aquatics Centre. Nicknamed the "Water Cube", the imposing £72m venue is clad in a honeycomb of transparent cushions and was funded by overseas donations. Li Aiqing, president of the company behind construction, said: "The whole project is complex and unique. "After five years of effort, we are very, very happy. It is one of the biggest swimming centres in the world."

The cushions in the outer layer of the building comprise over 100,000 square metres of ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene), a plastic with a melting-point of 275C. No fewer than 6,700 tonnes of steel and 1,300 tonnes of welding rods were also used in the construction.

A total of 42 gold medals will be won at the venue in swimming, diving and synchronised swimming. After the Olympics and Paralympics, a quarter of the venue will be retained for competition with the rest used for leisure purposes. The centre will host its first test event with the China Open swimming competition, which starts on Thursday.

The second showpiece venue of the Games, the neighbouring 91,000-seater National Stadium, or "Bird's Nest", is scheduled for completion by the end of March.



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