Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Space Frames: The Water Cube

PTW Architects, Beijing
Called the Water Cube (even though it's a box 584 feet square and 102 feet high, not a cube), this building's skin is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (a transparent form of Teflon) cells with either 14 or 12 sides. A space frame assembled on site from 22,000 steel tubes welded to 12,000 nodes holds the cells in place and provides a column-free structure with spans of 396 feet in either direction.

The structural design is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles which give a random, organic appearance. To achieve this, research was undertaken by Weaire and Phelan (professors of physics) into how soap bubbles might be arranged into an infinite array.


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