The National Aquatics Center (“Water Cube”)
The National Aquatics Center, also called “Water Cube”, is located at Beijing Olympic Park.. The total surface area of the National Aquatics Center covers 80,000 sq m. During the Olympic Games, the venue will host the swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming events, with 42 gold medals to be awarded here. It has indoor seating capacity for 17,000, including 6,000 permanent seats and 11,000 temporary seats. Its groundbreaking date was Dec. 24, 2003.
The National Aquatics Center is a miracle that lies on the central axis of Beijing. The external design of this "water cube" is simple yet imaginative.
The National Aquatics Center, one of the most important competition venues of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, is a joint Chinese effort. It is the only Olympic venue financed in part by donations from Chinese compatriots. As of July 2007，the total amount of donations to finance the venue's construction had reached more than 800 million yuan.
The "water cube" now has a protective "overcoat" composed of a high tech membrane structure. The venue contains a range of other high tech features including in the steel structure, indoor environmental systems, ETFE membrane installation, etc., which embody the concept of a "High-tech Olympics". Upon completion the "water cube" will be the world's largest ETFE project.
In contrast to the outdoor swimming pools used to host the swimming events of past Olympic Games, the National Aquatics Center uses a completely enclosed design. However, the ETFE outer membrane structure will allow 90% of sunlight into the venue, so that natural light will be available inside for up to 9 hours a day.
The venue's ETFE membrane is extremely sturdy and elastic. It also has a very high melting point surpassing 715 degrees to ensure protection from fire hazards.
The "water cube" is a completely enclosed venue, but potential problems with ventilation and acoustics problems have been addressed. An exhaust fan built into the rooftop, along with eight natural vents work to ventilate the venue.
The venue's indoors also employ a series of special materials to ensure the clear voice projection. In the closed architecture there will not be and voice fuzzy situation.