In August of 2008 the eyes of the world turned to Beijing for the Summer Olympics, and they were not disappointed. Along with the memorable sports events and ceremonies, the participants and spectators were fascinated by the buildings that hosted these events. Standing on the Beijing Olympic Green beside the 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium, the National Aquatics Centre saw 25 records broken inside its 'soap bubbles' structure.
Rather incorrectly nicknamed the 'Water Cube', this rectangular cuboid structure is largely made of a steel space frame that supports the ETFE pillows that give it its distinct look. ETFE allowed more light and heat penetration than glass and a reduction in energy costs, which was important for an Olympics the Chinese wanted to portray as 'green'. Taken in context with the round National Stadium, which symbolizes earth, the Aquatics Centre defined the heavens in Chinese design; the concept came from collaboration between Chinese and Australian architects.
Its Olympic pool was considered one of the best in the world in design and hosted the swimming, synchronized swimming and diving events.
But you will not be able to see the setting that held 17,000 spectators who watched Michael Phelps and other swimmers battle for Olympic glory. After months of refurbishment, it immerged as Asia's largest Water Park; a bubblegum wonderland of slides, wave pools and gigantic floating jellyfish. Inspired by the alien world in the blockbuster movie 'Avatar', the blue theme of water is highlighted by multicoloured tubes and slides that twist around the interior and fall onto the massive pools below.
Drop 40 feet down the 'speed slide' and zip in and out of the 'aqua loop' for your daily adrenaline rush or splash away the worries at the wave pool under a multitude of fluorescent bubbles. The translucent covering of the Aquatics Centre gives the new water park a whimsical light that is sure to delight visitors of all ages, which makes it an essential stop in a city tour.
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