• Client:
  • People’s Government of Beijing Municipality
  • Location:
  • Beijing, China
  • Status:
  • Completed 2008
  • Architects in association:
  • Size:
  • 62,950 m2


Chris Bosse was a key Watercube design team member whilst Associate Architect at PTW and came up with the idea that the building be made from bubbles.

He was awarded the 2006 RIBA Emerging Architects Prize for his contribution and accepted the Venice Architecture Biennale Atmosphere Award with Mark Butler in 2004.

The breakthrough in the design process is documented in an episode of National Geographic's "Megastructures" and has been published and acknowledged wordwide.

The design concept was written by Bosse for the Venice Architecture Biennale:

"The Watercube, designed for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, associates water, as a structural and thematic “leitmotiv”, with the square, the primal shape of the house in Chinese tradition and mythology.

The entire structure of the Watercube is based on a unique lightweight construction, developed by PTW and CSCEC with ARUP, and derived from the structure of water in the state of aggregation of foam. Behind the totally randomised appearance hides a strict geometry that can be found in natural systems like crystals, cells and molecular structures. By applying this novel material and technology the transparency and apparent randomness is transposed into the inner and outer skins of ETFE cushions.

Unlike traditional stadium structures with their gigantic columns and beams, cables and back spans, to which a facade system is applied, the Centre’s architectural space, structure and facade are one and the same element."

All images taken by Bosse.


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Design: Toko / Development: Damien Aistrope