The concept combines the symbolism of the square in Chinese culture and the natural structure of soap bubbles translated into architectural form. The design uses state of the art technology and materials to create a building that is visually striking, energy efficient and ecologically friendly.
The structure comprises a steel space frame, the largest ETFE clad structure in the world with over 100,000 m² of ETFE pillows that are only eight one-thousandths of an inch in total thickness. The ETFE cladding allows more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30% decrease in energy costs.
The outer wall is based on the Weaire-Phelan structure, a foam (structure formed by soap bubbles). The pattern is formed by taking a slice through the foam, and it was chosen in preference to the Kelvin foam because the more complex Weaire-Phelan structure results in more irregular, organic patterns than slices through the regular Kelvin foam.
The structure will have a capacity of 17,000 during the games that will be reduced to 6,000 afterwards. It also has a total land surface of 65,000 square metres and will cover a total of 7.8 acres.