Watercube wins the Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture

The iconic Watercube National Swimming Centre Beijing has been awarded one of Australia’s highest architecture prizes, the Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture. The design and construction of the memorable facility was a collaboration between Australian firm PTW Architects, Chinese practices CSCEC and CCDI, and international firm Arup. National Aquatics Center ( Watercube ), the landmark building of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, is located inside the Beijing Olympic Green. The planning area of the NSC is 62950m², and the total floor area is 65,000 - 80,000m², in which the underground component is not less than 15,000 m².The total investment of the project is around 100 million US dollar. The building’s structure is framed in steel, while the bubbles themselves are made from ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) pillows measuring 0.2 mm thick. The structural design is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles which give a random, organic appearance. To achieve this, research was undertaken by Weaire and Phelan (professors of physics) into how soap bubbles might be arranged into an infinite array.

To bring the design to life, the individual bubbles were incorporated into a plastic film and tailored like a sewing pattern. An entire section was pieced together and then put into place within the structure. There are interior and exterior films. The plastic film was then inflated and continously pumped.

The membrane lets in more light and heat than traditional glass does, which keeps all 5 pools warmer, thus reducing energy costs by 30%. Rainwater from the roof is collected and recycled with efficient filtration and backwash systems, and an incredible LED lighting system turns the Watercube into a beautiful kaleidoscope at night.