On Sunday 8th August – the two year anniversary of the start of the Beijing Olympics – the Water Cube was reopened to the public as Asia’s largest indoor water park. Sporting seven-storey slides, a wave pool, a water bar, rides entitled Aqualoop, Ridehouse, Bullet Bowl and Speed Slide, whirlpools and ‘deep-sea tornados’ the 77,000 sq ft complex has already been a hit with the waiting masses. There’s always a catch however, and with the Water Cube it’s a financial issue. In a city where the minimum wage is 960 yuan per month (€107), at 200 yuan for adults and 160 yuan for children to enter the park, it seems the emphasis is on attracting tourists rather than locals. For this price visitors can gain entrance to the park complex, which also includes shopping arcades, cafes and performance stages, whereas a much more feasible 50/30 yuan remains the entrance fee to the water park alone.
Instantly recognisable, the bubble-wrap form holds its own next to the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium, designed by CADG, Herzog & de Meuron, Stefan Marbach and artist Ai Weiwei for the 2008 Olympic Games. Forrec Vice-President Anthony Van Dam explains: “The Water Cube is a dynamic space. The brief from the client was simply to develop a world class concept, in keeping with the stature of the building and drawing from the ethereal quality of the interior environment. Every detail has been considered, from theatrical lighting and glass mosaic tiles to custom props and some ‘first-ever’ attractions.”