The National Aquatics Center, known as "The Water Cube" is one of the three landmark buildings of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It is located inside Beijing Olympic Park, covering a total floor space of 50,000 square meters (12 acres). Ground was broken on December 24, 2003, and the Center was completed and opened for use on January 28, 2008.
The outward appearance of the Center is a semi-transparent "cube", with "bubbles" spread out all over its surface, a shape very similar to the structure of "H2O". The Water Cube design was chosen from 10 proposals in an international architectural competition for the aquatic center project. It was initiated by a team effort: the Chinese partners felt a square was more symbolic of Chinese culture and its relationship to the Bird's Nest stadium, while the Sydney based partners came up with the idea of covering the "cube" with bubbles, symbolizing water. The Water Cube has set a new standard in environmental sports design, not only in China but throughout the world.
Many people believe the Water Cube to house the fastest Olympic pool in the world. It is 1 meter (3.28 ft.) deeper than most Olympic pools. Up to a certain limit, beyond which swimmers will lose their sense of vision, deeper pools allow the waves to dissipate down to the bottom, leading to less water disturbance that will slow the swimmers. The pool also has perforated gutters on both sides to absorb the waves. Swimmers at the Water Cube broke 25 world records during the 2008 Olympics. The Water Cube was a splendid architectural achievement and has become both a national pride and international sporting event landmark and venue.
Since the games, the center is not going to waste. Now it is open to visitors and has become a large water recreational center. In the future, it is expected to host more national and international athletic events.