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Beijing National Aquatics Centre 'Water Cube' construction model, 2007
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Images: 01 02

Object statement
Sectioned construction model, Beijing National Aquatics Centre or 'Water Cube' with cover, plastic / electrical wiring / internal lighting / wood, made by Micro Model, Beijing, China, 2007
The model is an excellent representation of the important structural and material engineering features of the National Aquatic Centre, Beijing. The model shows the geometry adopted by the structural engineers, the specialised roof and wall cladding material and design, and the sectioned interior of the main foyer.

The model's steel node and bubble representations mimic the geometrical archetype of foam theory as posed by Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson), a leading scientist and 'philosophical engineer' in the nineteenth century, further developed by mathematicians Weaire and Phelan in the late twentieth century, and used directly for the structural engineering design for the Beijing Water cube.

Des Barrett
Curator
Science and Industry
April 2010.
  • The design of the 'Water Cube' is based on lines of intersection of a mass of soap bubbles.
  • The 'Water Cube' was officially opened in 2008 and cost US $100 million.
  • It has been estimated that the total of length of steel used in the 'Water Cube' would be in the order of ninety kilometres.
  • At the 2008 Olympic Games Australia won 6 Gold Medals for Swimming, 1 Gold Medal for Diving; 6 Silver Medals for Swimming and 7 Bronze medals for swimming in the 'Water Cube'.
See another object with talking points
The model was made for ARUP by Micro Model, Beijing, China, in late 2007 and shipped to Australia early in 2008. It was kept by ARUP for office display during the Olympic games and delivered to the Museum in October 2008 and prepared for Museum display in December. The model's individual maker(s) is unknown.

The Museum's Interactives section designed, made, and installed the following: John Hirsch, electronics engineer (electronics for the two white panels that house the LED lights, and the electronic controller that regulates the lighting sequence); Geoff Drane, senior preparator (made the housing for the electronics and the lighting, carried out structural repairs on the model, and assembled various components); Krister Gustafsson, industrial designer (designed the acrylic showcase, lighting panels and associated electronics).
The history of the model's ownership and display prior to the Museum's acquisition of it has been provided in the Production section. Details of how the Museum became aware of and got interested in the model will be provided in this section. A brief history of the subject to which the model relates can be found in the Narratives section.

The model was made for professional use, chiefly to assist the ARUP engineers to model their Water Cube designs in physical space, to show a sectioned internal layout of a front corner of the Water Cube, to visualise the ETFE blue cladding on the structural steel tubes, and for promotional display. The Museum added a number of multi-coloured LED lights that were intended to provide a context for the changing hues that occur on the Water Cube during a twenty-four hour period.

In September 2008, the curator, exhibition designer, and the interactive exhibits section, were approached by the Sydney Division of Engineers Australia with a request to make a selection of six exhibits from the many entries received and judged for an award in the annual Engineering Excellence Awards program, which could be displayed at the Museum. The six exhibits were duly chosen, with each representing a project in one of the many award categories assigned by Engineers Australia.

One of the formal conditions negotiated between the Museum and the Sydney Division is that the Bradfield Award winner is automatically selected for display, on the basis that the Bradfield Award winner is judged to be an accomplishment of exceptional engineering merit. In 2008, the Bradfield Award was the National Aquatics Centre, Beijing, known by its popular name as the 'Water Cube'.

The model was displayed at the Museum in the 2008 Engineering Excellence exhibition between December 2008 and January 2010.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Sectioned construction model, Beijing National Aquatics Centre or 'Water Cube' with cover, plastic / electrical wiring / internal lighting / wood, made by Micro Model, Beijing, China, 2007

The model is covered with an acrylic case.

The white panels, which have multi-coloured LED lights, are located on the left-hand side and at the rear of the model. These panels are screwed to the cover.

The model is sectioned at the front elevation, which allows a direct view of the internal architecture and engineering structures. The tubular steel structures and their connecting nodes can be seen from all viewing angles, as can the hexagonal structures that dominate the roof of the Water Cube.

Scaled human figures are located randomly on the ground and first floors.

Excluding the sectioned portion of the model, the roof, rear, left-hand side wall and internal wall linings have been clad in double-layered ETFE material.

The model can be operated (i.e. by lighting the rear, left-hand side, internal walls, and roof) by pressing a button.
Made: 2007
2010/35/1
Production date
2007
Height
630 mm
Width
530 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of ARUP, 2010
Subjects
+ Civil engineering
+ Engineering
+ Structural engineering
+ Olympic Games
+ Swimming
+ Public architecture
+ Architecture
+ Engineering Excellence Awards
Currently on public display
+ EcoLogic Exhibition
Short persistent URL
Concise link back to this object: http://from.ph/406057
Cite this object in Wikipedia
Copy and paste this wiki-markup:

{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/406057 |title=Beijing National Aquatics Centre 'Water Cube' construction model |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=22 October 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


Copyright
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