A group of Beijing residents visited the National Aquatics Center (also known as the Water Cube or 'blue box') on Sunday at its open day event and witnessed how the Water Cube is being transformed into the Ice Cube.
The Water Cube, which housed swimming and diving events in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, is one of the largest membrane architectural structures in the world. The iconic venue is now undergoing a dramatic transformation to enable it to host the curling competition during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
Wearing safety helmets, the approximately 100 residents went to see the construction sites of the two major transformation projects, which entails upgrading the existing facility into a curling rink while keeping the swimming pool, and building a new underground ice sports center that the public can use on a regular basis.
Yang Qiyong, general manager of the National Aquatics Center, said the swimming pool has been emptied and a support structure for the transferable ice rink is being built.
The building of temperature and humidity controllers as well as lighting and acoustic systems is also well underway, Yang added.
As planned, the Water Cube will be well equipped for ice sports events before the end of this year, and the overall upgrading project will be completed by July 2020.
The new ice sports center, at the south of the 'blue box', will have an operation area of about 8,000 square meters, including a 1,830-square meter ice rink and four standard curling sheets.
An underground passage will also be built to connect the new center and the present natatorium, enabling visitors to move between water and ice sports more easily.
The visit was jointly organized by the Beijing State-owned Assets Management Co. LTD, the parent company of the Water Cube, and the China Construction First Group, the contractor of the structure's transformation program.
The event was part of the 4th Capital State-owned Enterprise (SOE) Open Day, in which 48 enterprises offered 126 activities, covering major construction projects, time-honored brands, as well as cultural and high-tech sectors, etc.