The Watercube Textile

The Olympic Games seem to produce some of the most innovative and interesting buildings in the world. Every two years, whether it’s the summer or winter games, Olympic host cities appear to announce their presence through unique building designs that hold the competitions. Without a doubt, the one major characteristic that makes these buildings so fascinating is the incorporation of innovative materials and structure. One of the most interesting buildings from the past, apart from the “Bird’s Nest” perhaps, is the Watercube National Swimming Center from the 2008 Beijing summer games. Fittingly for the building’s use, the architects decided to relate the aesthetics to the function by mimicking water bubbles. But how can something like this be made an actuality?


Textile innovations have been used in a number of different ways to produce shading devices and intricate forms. To give the appearance of a “bubble,” PTW Architects used Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) textile pillows on the façade of the building. From a distance the exterior looks like a giant jumble of soap suds and is especially unique at night because of the blue LED light luminance. On another note, the building is extremely sustainable. The “bubbles” draw in a substantial amount of daylight, which cut down on energy costs. This building is a perfect example of innovation through material advancement and sustainability.

Textiles are making a greater appearance within buildings, both interior and exterior. Interior textiles are applied as “walls.” Soft screen fabrics are used to separate spaces, as our common walls do. They give a more elegant and feeling to the spaces they inhabit. New innovations are now also seen as fabric ceilings, fabric lighting, and furniture design. These textiles also can create unique shapes around lighting sources for more creativity. New innovations are obviously making an impact in the building environment all around the world. Textiles can create extremely unique and intricate forms that other materials do not have the capability of doing. So the question now is, what is next in the world of textile?




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