Zhao Xiaojun

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2008, 12:00am

National Aquatics Centre (Water Cube) designer, and Samsung Olympics torchbearer

Thanks to Zhao Xiaojun, co-founder of China Construction Design International, the Water Cube is what it is today. Two weeks before a 'waves' design was due to be put before the judges, Zhao came up with a completely new idea. This is what was eventually built.

What's the idea behind your design?

Of course it's for the swimming events so it had to have something to do with water. But the bubbles were all designed individually and then put together. It's about each individual part making up the whole.

So rather a communist principle?

If you like, yes. But with a Chinese cultural element.

How is the Water Cube symbolic of Chinese culture?

In Chinese thinking it is far more important to be a co-star rather than the main character. So the bubbles are all co-stars. And water is very important in Chinese thinking. It also has to do with peace and calm. Water can't compete. It can never be higher than a mountain, for instance. But it is also the most important thing in life. People with great qualities'rtists, poets, and so on, have always embraced water's qualities.

The Water Cube looks great because it's quite new. But how will Beijing's air pollution affect what it looks like? How will you keep it clean?

The Water Cube is made of materials that don't get dirty very easily. It's a bit the same as how glass is easier to keep clean than, say, clothes. The material it's made of ETFE membranes and doesn't get dirty as badly as glass does. However we will have to clean it, and we've got both machines and people to do that when it needs it.

Are you proud to be part of such an important part of China's history?

I wouldn't say I'm proud, I'd say I'm fulfilled. It's like having a child. It has a life of its own, you can look at it and look after it but it's its own person.

How have the Olympics affected China?

It's helped China progress, helped its development. All sorts of things have changed now. It's especially good for the exchange of culture between Beijing and the western world.

You have carried the Olympic torch, haven't you? Where?

I was Samsung's second torch-bearer in Sanya, Hainan Island, on May 4th. It was a great honour to be chosen, and to be only the second torch-bearer for Samsung.

Do you have tickets for the Games?

No, I will just stay at home and watch it on the television.

Don't you want to go and see the spectacle in your own work of art?

The way I see it is that if your children get married, you don't go and watch their first night together with their husband or wife. You wouldn't go and see that, would you?