MacRobert prize awarded for pioneering work on the 2008 Olympic swimming venue

Arup's engineers have won the UK's top engineering prize for the Beijing aquatics centre. Their Water Cube was used as the venue for swimming events at the 2008 Olympics.

Five people at the engineering firm were awarded the MacRobert prize for their pioneering work. The structure was chosen for the revolutionary approach used to prototype the building on computer, alongside its environmental impact.

The structure is clad in a material known as ETFE, and captures 20% of the solar energy falling on it. Arup also claims it needs 55% less artificial lighting than a conventionally designed building would.

The building's shell is a lightweight structure, consisting of 22,000 individual pieces that imitate soap bubbles.

Water Cube
The shell consists of 22,000 individual pieces that imitate soap bubbles

Chairman of the MacRobert Award, Dr Geoff Robinson, said the building was “stunning”, with “breathing architecture”.

Project director Tristram Carfrae, structural engineer Mark Arkinstall, building modeller Stuart Bull, sustainability energy and facade engineer Haico Schepers and fire engineer Marianne Foley are the joint winners of the prize.

Other shortlisted entrants for the 2009 award was QinetiQ for the Tarsier system that automatically spots debris on runways and Rolls-Royce, which was behind the Trent 900 gas turbine Aeroengine used by the Airbus A380.