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The Transformation of Beijing Water Cube

Beijing Water Cube

The Beijing Water Cube, officially known as the National Aquatics Center, is a prominent architectural landmark located in Beijing, China. It gained international fame as one of the iconic venues during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Design and Architecture

The overall design of the Water Cube is inspired by the concept of bubbles and water. The building’s facade features a unique pattern of interconnected “bubbles” or cells, creating a visually striking and organic appearance. These cells are made of lightweight ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) cushions, which allow natural light to penetrate while maintaining thermal insulation.

The cube-like structure of the Water Cube measures 177 meters long, 177 meters wide, and 30 meters tall. It covers a total floor area of approximately 79,532 square meters, providing ample space for various aquatic and recreational facilities.

The architectural design prioritizes functionality and flexibility. The interior spaces are carefully planned to accommodate different activities and events. The main pool area, which hosted swimming and diving competitions during the 2008 Olympics, features a world-class Olympic-sized swimming pool and diving facilities. The seating capacity of the venue can accommodate around 17,000 spectators.

One of the notable aspects of the Water Cube’s design is its emphasis on sustainability. The lightweight ETFE cushions not only allow for ample natural light but also contribute to energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. The cushions have a high thermal insulation capacity, minimizing the need for artificial lighting and reducing energy consumption.


In terms of aesthetics, the interior of the Water Cube maintains a harmonious water-themed design. The color scheme of the walls and floors, with hues of blue and white, creates a serene and immersive atmosphere. Water-inspired motifs and patterns can be found throughout the venue, enhancing the overall aquatic theme.

Construction and Conversion

Construction of the Water Cube began in 2003 as part of Beijing’s preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games. The project was completed in 2007, showcasing the remarkable efficiency and speed of the construction process. The collaborative efforts of architecture firms PTW Architects and Arup, along with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), ensured the successful realization of the project.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Water Cube served as the venue for swimming and diving events. It is state-of-the-art facilities and world-class infrastructure provided an optimal setting for athletes and spectators alike, showcasing the pinnacle of aquatic sports.

2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Following the conclusion of the Olympics, plans were made to convert the Water Cube into a multi-purpose facility that would serve various recreational, cultural, and entertainment purposes. This conversion was undertaken to ensure the sustainable utilization of the venue and maximize its long-term value.

The transformation of the Water Cube involved repurposing the interior spaces and adding additional amenities. The venue was adapted to host a water park, featuring thrilling slides, wave pools, and interactive water attractions, making it a popular destination for families and tourists.

In addition to the water park, the Water Cube underwent modifications to accommodate a range of cultural and entertainment events. The flexible interior spaces have been used to host art exhibitions, concerts, performances, and other cultural activities, contributing to Beijing’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene.

What is the Water Cube Used for Now?

Today, it serves as a versatile destination offering a range of recreational, cultural, and entertainment experiences.

Water Park

The Water Cube features an exciting water park that offers thrilling water slides, wave pools, and interactive water attractions. It provides a fun-filled environment for families, tourists, and water enthusiasts of all ages.

Sporting Events and Competitions

The venue continues to host various sporting events and competitions. Its adaptable interior spaces can accommodate swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo events, attracting athletes from around the world.

Cultural and Entertainment Events

The Water Cube has become a hub for cultural and entertainment activities. It hosts art exhibitions, showcasing diverse artistic works and fostering cultural exchange. The venue also welcomes musical concerts, live performances, and theatrical shows, providing a platform for local and international artists.

Recreation and Wellness

Water Cube Used for water park

The facility offers spa and wellness amenities, allowing visitors to relax and rejuvenate in a serene environment. These facilities include spa services, fitness centers, and relaxation areas, catering to individuals seeking a holistic wellness experience.

Tourism and Sightseeing

The Water Cube remains a popular tourist attraction in Beijing. Visitors can explore the iconic architectural design, learn about its Olympic legacy, and enjoy the surrounding landscaped areas.

By diversifying its offerings, the Water Cube has established itself as a vibrant destination that appeals to a wide range of interests. Its blend of recreational, cultural, and wellness activities ensures there is always something engaging for visitors to experience within its iconic walls.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

The Beijing Water Cube incorporates several sustainable design features and strives to minimize its environmental impact. These efforts contribute to its status as a leading example of eco-friendly architecture and construction.

Energy Efficiency

The Water Cube’s unique architectural design, featuring lightweight ETFE cushions, allows for ample natural light penetration. This reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day, resulting in energy savings. The translucent cushions also provide enhanced thermal insulation, reducing the energy required for temperature regulation.

Rainwater Harvesting and Recycling

The venue implements rainwater harvesting and recycling systems to minimize water consumption. Rainwater is collected from the roof and surrounding areas, then treated and reused for irrigation, toilet flushing, and other non-potable purposes. This reduces the demand for freshwater resources and promotes sustainable water management.

Water Conservation Measures

The Water Cube employs water-saving fixtures and technologies to minimize water wastage. Low-flow faucets, toilets, and showers are installed throughout the facility to promote efficient water usage. These measures contribute to water conservation and help mitigate the impact on local water resources.

Sustainable Materials

Sustainable Materials

The construction of the Water Cube utilized sustainable and environmentally friendly materials where possible. The ETFE cushions used in the building’s facade are lightweight, durable, and recyclable. Selecting materials with low environmental impact helps reduce the overall carbon footprint of the structure.

Environmental Awareness and Education

The Water Cube promotes environmental awareness among visitors and the wider community. It serves as a platform for educating the public about sustainable practices and the importance of conserving resources. Exhibitions and displays within the venue highlight eco-friendly initiatives and encourage visitors to adopt sustainable behaviors.

Green Building Certifications

The Water Cube has achieved various green building certifications, affirming its commitment to sustainability. These certifications recognize the venue’s energy-efficient design, water-saving measures, and eco-conscious construction practices. Such recognition demonstrates the Water Cube’s compliance with stringent environmental standards.

How to Get to the Beijing Water Cube?

There are several ways to get to the Beijing Water Cube, also known as the National Aquatics Center, depending on your starting point. Here are some common methods of transportation:

By Subway

The most convenient way to reach the Water Cube is by taking the Beijing Subway. You can take Line 8 and alight at the Olympic Sports Center Station. From there, follow the signs to the Water Cube, which is within walking distance from the station.

By Bus

Various bus routes connect to the Water Cube. You can check local bus maps or transportation websites for specific routes and schedules. Bus stops near it include Olympic Sports Center (奥体中心), Beichen West Road (北辰西路), and Beichen East Road (北辰东路).

By Taxi or Ridesharing

Taxis and ridesharing services like DiDi are widely available in Beijing. Simply provide the driver with the address of the Water Cube, which is located at 11 Tianchen East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing. It’s advisable to have the address written in Chinese characters to assist in communication with the driver.

By Private Vehicle

If you have access to a private vehicle, you can drive to the Water Cube. Use a navigation system or map application to guide you to the venue. There are parking facilities available nearby for visitors.

It’s recommended to check the latest transportation information, including schedules and routes, before your visit. Additionally, consider the time of day and potential traffic conditions, especially during peak hours or major events, which may affect travel times.

Water Cube in the evening

Frequently Asked Questions

How much did the Water Cube cost?

The construction cost of the Beijing Water Cube was approximately ¥ 3.8 billion Chinese yuan (equivalent to about $445 million USD at the time of construction). This amount includes the expenses for the design, engineering, construction, and installation of the venue. The Water Cube’s unique architectural design and advanced engineering techniques contributed to its construction cost.

Are there any ticket prices for the Water Cube?

Ticket prices for the Water Cube may vary depending on the activities and events. The water park, sporting events, and cultural exhibitions may have separate ticketing systems and pricing structures. It’s recommended to check the official website or authorized ticketing platforms for up-to-date information on ticket availability and prices.

Can I buy tickets in advance?

Yes, it is advisable to purchase tickets in advance, especially for popular events or during peak seasons. Check the official website or authorized ticketing platforms for online ticket purchase options. This helps you secure your entry and avoid long queues on the day of your visit.

Is photography allowed inside the Water Cube?

Photography is generally allowed inside the Water Cube, but specific rules may apply depending on the activity or event. It’s recommended to respect the privacy and rights of other visitors and adhere to any signage or instructions regarding photography.

Are there any food and beverage options available?

The Water Cube offers food and beverage options within its premises. You can find various dining outlets, including restaurants, cafes, and snack bars, offering a range of cuisine and refreshments.

Is the Water Cube wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Water Cube is wheelchair accessible. The venue provides facilities and amenities to accommodate individuals with disabilities, including accessible entrances, ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms.

Whether you’re exploring the water park, attending a sporting event, or immersing yourself in vibrant cultural exhibitions, the Water Cube offers a unique and unforgettable experience. As Beijing continues to grow and evolve, the Water Cube will remain an iconic symbol of the city’s Olympic legacy, a beacon of architectural brilliance, and a vibrant hub of activity for years to come.

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