The National Aquatics Center (Water Cube)

The National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube, is located on Olympic Green, with the Bird’s Nest Stadium, on Beijing's north-south axis.

It was built as the main natatorium for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and became known as one of the Games' iconic structures. It will host the curling at the 2022 Winter Olympics .

Quick Facts

Beijing Water CubeBeijing Water Cube
  • Chinese: 国家游泳中心, Guójiā Yóuyŏng Zhōngxīn /gwor-jyah yoh-yong jong-sshin/
  • Nickname: the Water Cube, 水立方, Shuĭlìfāng /shway-lee-fung/
  • Location: It is located in the south of Beijing Olympic Park, next to the Bird’s Nest
  • Purpose: It was originally built for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and was the main venue for swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo.
  • Highlights: appreciate its special shape, have fun in the water park and in the Waterdrop Theater
  • Time needed: 1 hour

The Feature of the Water Cube

Beijing Water CubeThe Water Cube got its name due to its huge cube structure with the shape of soap bubbles on it.

The Water Cube was designed by PTW Architects and Ove Arup. Their unique and inspired design was based on the way soap bubbles come together in a 12 or 14-sided cell structure. The surface of these “soap bubbles” will reflect sunlight and makes the building a water droplet glistening in the sunlight, from which it got its nickname: The Water Cube.

The Water Cube is 177 meters square and 30 meters high, and has a capacity of 17,000 seats (6,000 permanent and 11,000 temporary for the Olympics).

Designed in Accordance with Traditional Chinese Culture

This seemingly simple "cube" was designed according to traditional Chinese culture as well as modern science and technology. Chinese people traditionally believed that Earth is square and heaven is round.

The square is the most basic form of ancient Chinese urban architecture, which reflects the rules of social life represented by ethics in Chinese culture. Chinese people believe that nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards (‘No rules; no square garden,’ as the classic saying goes).

Therefore, many Chinese architectural structures embody this philosophy. For example, the blue Water Cube complements the red, round Bird’s Nest in Beijing Olympic Park.

Uses an Advanced Membrane Structure

water cubeThe Water Cube

The Water Cube is an innovative building because of its architecture and structure, with a high technological content. The building’s exterior protection adopts a new environmentally friendly and energy-saving ETFE membrane material with a coverage area of 100,000 square meters, which is the world's largest ETFE application project.

The ETFE membrane materials have a low mass, are tough, and can absorb more sunlight. They don’t ignite spontaneously and have a wonderful self-cleaning function. The material can't be stained by the dust. When the wind blows, the dust goes away. In addition, the Water Cube also has an environmental function to collect and recycle rainwater. Rainwater that falls on the Water Cube’s roof will be collected into a central storage pool below the building.

Post-Games Uses

water park in water cubeThe Water Park

After a major transformation after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Water Cube was turned into a large water amusement park and reopened to the public in August 2010. It is now a multi-functional center for sports, recreation and fitness.

The Water Park in the Water Cube

The new water amusement park inside the Water Cube is the largest and the best of its kind in China, allowing a functional capacity of 6,000 people.

It is an ideal place for families with kids to escape the summer heat and have fun. It is equipped with many amusement facilities, such as wave machines, speed slides and aqualoops.

The water temperature is said to be controlled at 23°C(73°F) in summer and 30°C(86°F) in winter. Coffee shops, leisure centers and VIP boxes are also available inside the water park.

The Waterdrop Theater

The theater covers an area of about 200 square meters and has 150 seats. It will play promotional films about the Olympics and some 3D films, which further enrich visitors’ experiences.

Venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics

In late December 2018, the renovation of the Water Cube began, kicking off the magnificent transformation into the “ice cube”. The revamped Water Cube will be the venue for the curling competition.

At the same time, an underground ice rink will be added to serve the masses as a way to keep fit and to popularize curling. The renovation will be completed in July 2020.

Information about the 2022 Winter Olympics

Time: scheduled to take place from February 4th to 20th, 2022.

Venues and facilities: There are 25 venues in three clusters (one in Beijing, one in Yanqing, and one in Zhangjiakou) for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Some important venues:

bird's nestBeijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest)
  • Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest): It will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies.
  • The Beijing National Aquatics Center (Water Cube): After being renovated, it will be used for curling competitions and will be able to accommodate an audience of 4,000 people.
  • Beijing National Indoor Stadium: It will be used for ice hockey and it can accommodate 18,000 people.
  • The National Speed Skating Oval: A new venue will be built for speed skating and an audience of 12,000 people will be able to watch the games there.
  • Capital Gymnasium: An audience of 18,000 people can watch short track and figure skating competitions there.
  • Wukesong Indoor Stadium: This venue will be used for women's ice hockey and can accommodate an audience of 9,000 people.

Travel Information about the Water Cube

How to Get There

  • By subway: Take Line 8 and get off at Olympic Sports Center Station. Use Exit B2.
  • By taxi: Show this phrase to the driver: “请带我去水立方”, which means “Please take me to the Water Cube”.
  • By bus: Take bus 81, 82, 86, 510, or 607 to Guojia Tiyuguan (National Stadium) Station. Alternatively, use sightseeing bus line 3 to reach Beichen West Bridge North Station (北辰西桥北站).

Opening Times and Tickets

  • Open: 9am–6pm
  • Entry fee: 30 yuan
travel with usTravel with us!

Come and Marvel at the Water Cube

Come and Marvel at the Water Cube and Beijing's other ancient wonders with an Olympic Memories Tour. Feel free to tell us your interests and requirements, and we are glad to tailor-make a unique tour for you. You can look through our Beijing tours for some inspiration.

Start planning your tailor-made China tours by contacting ​one of our specialists... Create My Trip