Watch out for the ‘Water Cube’ at the impending 2008 Beijing Olympics as yesterday China has officially unveiled its bubble-wrapped National Aquatics Centre, nicknamed the “Water Cube”. The impressive rectangular box, dressed in a honeycomb of translucent cushions would be hosting the diving, swimming and matched swimming during 8-24 August. However it has failed to live up to the expectations of all. The $143.2 million (1.03 billion yuan) complex doesn’t seem to match the “dreamlike and water-blue building” of the official description. It is to the ceiling of cushions above the 17,000 seats (11,000 of them temporary) that the eye is constantly drawn. The building will perhaps be at its best at night when an LED system with 16.7 million tones will turn the arena into a vibrant kaleidoscope of color both inside and out.
The “Water Cube” was a unique project for the Beijing Games in that it was funded by contributions from “overseas Chinese”, including $25 million from late Hong Kong billionaire Henry Fok and his family.