on the greenhouse effect, this time a welcome one. The 2008 Olympics
Games will be China's chance to present its best face to the outside

It is also a showcase for many companies — Chinese and western —
to present the latest technologies in a whole range of areas including
environmentally-friendly building design.

For example, the 70,000-square-metre building that houses the
national swimming centre, more informally known as the Watercube, would
normally take a lot of heating.

But PTW Architects, the Sydney-based firm that designed the
Watercube, has used a Teflon-like material called ETFE to clad the
building in what looks like a giant-sized version of bubble-wrap.

The ETFE cladding acts as a very efficient greenhouse and means that
90% of the solar energy falling on the building is trapped inside, so
keeping the building warm during Beijing's bitterly cold winters.

The swimming facility will house 17,000 spectators and should be
completed by year's end. In the past, the cities that host the Olympics
have often struggled to complete their ambitious building projects in

Beijing wants to be the exception to the rule. It plans to have all
37 competition venues and 76 training venues ready by the end of 2007
— seven month ahead of the opening ceremony.

More in this story in Architectural Record.