The National Aquatics Center in Beijing, China
© Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Image
Ice Cube aglow. 2022 Winter Paralympics
The 2022 Winter Paralympics begins today in Beijing, as the Chinese capital becomes the first city to host both the summer and winter editions of the Paralympic Games. Over the next 10 days, about 600 athletes will compete in 78 different events across six sports—alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowboarding, para ice hockey, and wheelchair curling. All the events will take place in a strict Covid 'bubble' system to ensure safety at the Games.
Speaking of bubbles, today we're looking at the National Aquatics Center, a box-shaped building that will host the wheelchair curling events. The design of the bubble-wrapped façade—made from a thin, transparent material called ETFE—is based on the Weaire-Phelan geometric structure, which is derived from the natural pattern of bubbles in soap lather. The building was originally built to host the swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming competitions at the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Nicknamed the Water Cube for the Summer Games, the building's pool has been turned into an ice rink for the winter events, so the venue has been redubbed the Ice Cube, at least temporarily. It's the first sports arena in the world that can switch between water and ice.