As a follow up to last week’s post about good design being born from a strong point of view, this week’s story does just that. The Water Cube, otherwise known as the Beijing National Aquatics Center was selected in an international architectural competition to house the swimming events during the 2008 Summer Olympics. The building’s design was based on the geometry of water bubbles and its  elemental shape was specifically created to work in harmony with the circular main stadium, The Bird’s Nest. Andrew Frost, the PTW architect and building’s creator says, “It appears random and playful like a natural system, yet is mathematically very rigorous and repetitious. The transparency of water, with the mystery of the bubble system, engages those both inside and out of the structure to consider their own experiences with water.”

Though the building was used for public recreational activities following the games, recouping the nearly 100 million dollars in construction costs was a difficult task.It appears, however, that the building will continue to reign as one of the world’s most unique structures, not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. Following a 10-month renovation, the Water Cube has recently reopened as Asia’s largest indoor water park, the Happy Magic Watercube Waterpark.

Bringing freshness, excitement, mystery and happiness to families from around the world, the newly designed,  multi-functional Water Cube features several different areas including a water world, a health and beauty area, a spa, a theme restaurant and bar as well as a shopping area. A true underwater environment has been created with abstract tropical reefs, coral, jellyfish, bubbles and sea grasses enlarged and suspended throughout the space. These pieces act not only as thematic elements but also serve to interrupt the space with a sense of animation and color, in contrast with the white geometry of the building’s facade. Natural light filters through the building’s exterior and plays a major role in the facility both day and night, helping to create a more realistic underwater experience, reminiscent of a scene from Avatar.

Aside from the name  – which leaves much to be desired – we think this is a successfully seamless transformation of form and function. The concept of the building is still clear and easily communicable through the new design. While there is some debate that the park is not accessible to everyone, it would seem that the decision to re-purpose the building was a wise one. No one pays more for these Olympic-scale projects than citizens of the host city, which typically never make good on their investments. This one, however, may be an exception to the rule.

images via Matthew Niederhauser

One Response to “WATER WORLD”
  1. Mike Marti says:

    Wow thats a amazing water park! It looks like a fun place for kids and adults. I usually take my family to a place near us called the Great Wolf Lodge and my kids love it so I could only imagine how much they’d love this place!

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