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Beijing National Swimming Centre


Be Awards category
BIM in Architecture and Engineering

Project objectives
To design the National Swimming Centre for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, a dramatic “Water Cube” covered by translucent ETFE bubbles, with seating for 17,000.

Fast facts
The structure is a 3D Vierendeel space frame 175 meters on each side and 35 meters high, based on a geometric cell made up of 12 pentagons and two hexagons, which is repeatable in 3D without leaving any empty spaces. Modeling and documentation was a “daunting proposal,” an Arup technician said.

Bentley products used
•    MicroStation
•    MicroStation TriForma
•    Bentley Structural

Securing the design contract for the National Swimming Centre for the Beijing 2008 Olympics was a task worthy of gold medal distinction. But with the help of MicroStation and Bentley Structural software, Arup and architectural firm PTW of Sydney, Australia, together with CSCEC from Beijing and Shenzhen, (John Bilmon, Chris Bosse, Mark Butler) beat out 10 qualifiers for this prestigious, world-class project. Arup’s Water Cube design was based on a natural pattern of organic cells and the formation of soap bubbles. Contained within the center’s blue bubble walls are the pools for the Olympic swimming and diving competitions, along with seating for 17,000 spectators.

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