At the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, people all over the world will see a fantastic stadium broadcasted on television. The stadium is now only a blueprint, but its construction is set to start December 24, 2003. It features a unique and exciting nest-shaped exterior, and will serve as the main stadium of the 2008 Olympics.
The stadium, co-designed by the Swiss Herzog & DeMeuron Company and the China Architecture Design Institute, will accommodate 100,000 spectators. " Like birds that can't beautify their nests," says Li Xinggang, deputy architect-in-chief of the institute, "we avoided decorating our design excessively. It is a combination of elegance and simplicity."
Before the final choice was made, 13 designs were entered into the competition and then evaluated by a panel of thirteen eminent architects from five countries. The nest-shaped design won eight votes, and eventually beat all the others. Once his design had been picked, Architect DeMeuron was not only faced with a great joy, but also an immense challenge. "The challenge comes from the great importance of the stadium as well as its future details," he explained. "The day the 2008 Beijing Olympics opens, the stadium will be the focus of the world's attention, so we are faced with a great amount of pressure."
In 2001, Herzog and DeMeuron, chief designers of the stadium, won the Pritzker Prize, the top prize for architecture in the world. They are both lovers of soccer, and attend a match almost every week. They attribute their success to their enthusiastic love of sports. "Our love for sports enables us to understand the emotional exchanges between athletes and their spectators," said DeMeuron. "We permeate our design with such emotion." During their co-operation with their Chinese partners, they reached a common understanding: Abandon all complex designs and exaggerated frameworks and build a stadium that allows spectators to focus their eyes on the matches and athletes to give full play to their skills.
Viewed from the top, the stadium is covered by a gray steel net, and looks just like a bird's nest woven out of tree branches. Such a design ensures the ventilation of the stadium, making it adaptable to the local climate of Beijing. The stadium has a dynamic touch, and enjoys three-dimensional walkways, from which people can see more than one activity from anywhere, allowing spectators to become part of the matches. Its stands are reddish brown in color, and its exterior is gray. The designers were inspired by the outer walls and palaces of the Forbidden City, which are colored gray and reddish brown, respectively.
Although most experts agree that the stadium's structure appears to have no order, its support system is clear and rational. Surrounding the stadium's field are 80,000 permanent seats, above which are 20,000 temporary seats that can be used or removed as needed. The translucent, retractable ceiling provides sufficient light diffusion, helping prevent shadows caused by strong light, while protecting the lawns in the stadium.
A survey shows that most of the public are in favor of the nest-shaped design, and think it is both novel and modern. Although comments on the design vary, the public have accepted it and firmly believe it will establish an architectural trend around the world.
(China Pictorial 14, 2003)