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Say It Right Series

Olympic Architecture Part 1 : Bird's Nest

Posted by calkins July 27, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: Bird's Nest, architecture, olympics, beijing

Beijing has both excellent and classical architecture, but few distinguished modern buildings. This year's modern olympic structures are arguably some of the greatest ever. In the next few days, we'll take a look at four of the main venue structures.

The Beijing National Stadium ("Bird's Nest") is where the games start, so we'll begin with this amazing sculptural structure. First some photos, then a video, and last some detail.

The Beijing National Stadium 北京国家体育场 Běijīng Guójiā Tǐyùchǎng (Bird's Nest 鸟巢 niǎocháo)


The above is a long (9 mins), but great educational video on the initial winning bid for the Olympics and on the initial conceptual designs of Bird's Nest.

The remaining videos from this program can be found here.


The "Bird's Nest" was jointly designed by Herzog and De Meuron Architekten AG, Switzerland, and Chinese architect Li Xinggang. It gained high praise and also aroused much controversy.

Some people think the design is too avant-garde and trendy, and not in keeping with acceptable traditional ideas. However, insiders think "Bird's Nest" has properly expressed a new architectural vernacular. Such schemes can not workout without an understanding of Chinese philosophy and the Chinese idea of good timing, geographical convenience, and harmonious human relations.

According to designer De Meauron, first, it is a contemporary Chinese building; second, it has close links with Chinese culture; third, it is reliable in its use of techniques. The architecture of the 20th century emphasized technology. In the new century it will reflect the contemporary culture of the Olympic Games. The stadium is designed for its people; the "gentle" environment shows respect to its athletes.

The stadium is a bowl shape with a red stand. It looks like a nest structure. It is made of gray mining steel covered with a transparent membrane. Bird's Nest is an original creation, with a fresh and unique appeal, an exciting example of global architecture.

As the main stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games, the National Stadium is located in the Olympic Park, northeast of the city axis line, covering an area of 204,100 square meters and forming a construction area of 258,000 square meters. During the 2008 Olympics, the National Stadium is designated to host the opening and closing ceremony, the track and field competition and the soccer games, etc.

The National Stadium accommodates 100,000 spectators of which 20,000 are with temporary seating. After the 2008 Olympics, the National Stadium will be converted to an 80,000-seater stadium suitable for large-scale sport competitions and other non-competitive events. The National Stadium will become a large-scale venue for sports, recreation and entertainment for the people of Beijing.

The stadium cost approximately 3.4 billion yuan (500 million USD, 318 million EUR).

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