Colling + IPS

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Beijing Olympics Natatorium Competition *

Beijing Olympics Natatorium Competition Beijing Olympics Natatorium Competition Beijing Olympics Natatorium Competition
  • project details
  • Client:
    Beijing Olympic Planning Authority

    HOK Sport (Andrew Colling as Design Team Leader)

    3,000 permanent seats + 12,000 seats in temporary competition mode.


    Competition won by PTW/ARUP/CCDI
HOK Sport participated in a limited invitation only competition to design the main aquatic building for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The site location had been established by the Olympic site master plan developed by Sasaki & Associates. Adjacent to the Swimming Center was the recently winning submission of the “Bird’s Nest” Stadium by Herzog & DeMueron.

The design team approach was to create a scheme that represented the three conditions of water – solid, liquid and gas, and to combine this conceptual idea with a reference matrix that linked all previous Olympic cities around the globe. The result as a dynamic and aggressive structure that transforms from solid and constrained at the northern end, to open and free flowing at the southern, more public end of the building. Material selection and color reflected the winning podium – gold, silver and bronze.

Spacial planning allowed for the Natatorium to expand in future to incorporate a greater percentage of water leisure activities that can operate all year around. Internal temporary seats allocated during the Olympic Event would be removed and replaced with more commercial activities.

The design for the Beijing Olympic Natatorium competition signified a significant departure from the design philosophy of HOK Sport. This was primarily driven by the expectations of the market plus a conscious decision to pursue a more aggressive aesthetic and architectural presence demanded by projects in China.