Beijing’s iconic Water Cube comes to Hong Kong

In the lead up to Rio, German architect Chris Bosse has added to the city’s Olympic fever by installing replica of his famed indoor swimming pool

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 7:14pm

German architect Chris Bosse has brought a piece of the Olympics to Hong Kong by installing a replica of Beijing’s famed Water Cube indoor swimming pool in one of the city’s busiest malls.

Coinciding with the Rio Olympics, which start Friday, Bosse designed a 32-panel replica of the honeycomb walls of the Water Cube. The piece, named “Sportivation In Town”, has been installed inside New Town Plaza shopping centre in Sha Tin.

The panels form a canopy over a 2.5 metre-long LED display, which will screen animations of nine different Olympic sports, from swimming to fencing, when the piece is officially unveiled next week.

Bosse is renowned for designing the Water Cube, which was one of the centrepieces of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“This is pretty much a 1:1 representation,” Bosse said, referring to how he had rebuilt several of the original Water Cube’s nine metre-high bubble molecules to full scale.

But unlike the original, the replica panels are made of Lyra, the material found in swimsuits, to reduce weight and maintain strength. Weighing a thousand times less than glass, Bosse said the Lyra suited his “more with less” design motto.

While the panel installation was built in just three months, for Bosse, the Water Cube’s design has been in the making for 40 years.

He said the design was first inspired when he was being mentored by Frei Otto, a principal architect for the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium.

Bosse’s designs are inspired by repetitive patterns in nature, particularly those found in water molecules and coral reefs. Unsurprisingly, Bosse is a fan of swimming, which is partly why he wanted to design the Water Cube.

Bosse likened Hong Kong to a coral reef. He explained that both have millions of inhabitants and when seen up close – order can be found in chaos.

His favourite buildings in the city are the HSBC Main Building and Chek Lap Kok Airport, which he said captured the city’s position as the intersection between Asia and the rest of the world.

The installation and LED display will be open to the public at New Town Plaza shopping centre in Sha Tin from next Tuesday, August 9 to September 4.