Bird's Nest and the Water Cube

Bird's Nest

Bird’s Nest / Beijing National Stadium

Located in the Olympic Green, the $423 million stadium is the world's largest steel structure. The design was awarded to a submission from the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in April 2003, after a bidding process that included 13 final submissions. The design, which originated from the study of Chinese ceramics, implemented steel beams in order to hide supports for the retractable roof; giving the stadium the appearance of a "Bird's nest". Leading Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was the artistic consultant on the project. The retractable roof was later removed from the design after inspiring the stadium's most recognizable aspect. Ground was broken in December 2003 and the stadium officially opened in June 2008.

Design and construction

Beijing National Stadium was a joint venture among architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron, project architect Stefan Marbach, artist Ai Weiwei, and CADG which was lead by chief architect Li Xinggang. During their first meeting in 2003, at Basel, the group decided to do something unlike Herzog and de Meuron had traditionally designed. "China wanted to have something new for this very important stadium," Li stated. In an effort to design a stadium that was "porous" while also being "a collective building, a public vessel",the team studied Chinese ceramics. This line of thought brought the team to the "nest scheme". The stadium consists of two independent structures, standing 50 feet apart: a red concrete seating bowl and the outer steel frame around it.
In an attempt to hide steel supports for the retractable roof, required in the bidding process, the team developed the "seemingly random additional steel" to blend the supports into the rest of the stadium. Twenty-four trussed columns encase the inner bowl, each one weighing 1,000 tons. Despite random appearance, each half of the stadium is nearly identical. After a collapse of a roof at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Beijing reviewed all major projects. It was decided to eliminate the retractable roof, the original inspiration for the "nest" design, as well as 9,000 seats from the design. The removal of the elements helped to bring the project under the reduced construction budget of $290 million, from an original $500 million.With the removal of the retractable roof, the building was lightened, which helped it stand up seismic activity; however, the upper section of the roof was altered to protect fans from weather. Due to the stadium's outward appearance, it was nicknamed "The Bird's Nest". The phrase was first used by Herzog & de Meuron, though the pair still believes "there should be many ways of perceiving a building." The use is a compliment Li explained, "In China, a bird's nest is very expensive, something you eat on special occasions."
Ground was broken, at the Olympic Green, for Beijing National Stadium on 24 December 2003. At its height, 17,000 construction workers worked on the stadium. In January 2008, The Times reported that 10 workers had died throughout construction; despite denial from the Chinese government. However, in a story the following week, Reuters, with the support of the Chinese government, reported that only two workers had died. All 110,000 tons of steel were made in China, making the stadium the largest steel structure in the world. On 14 May 2008, the grass field of 7,811 square meters was laid in 24 hours. The field is a modular turf system by GreenTech ITM. Beijing National Stadium officially opened at a ceremony on 28 June 2008.

Features //
The eastern and western stands of Beijing National Stadium are higher than northern and southern stands, in order to improve sightlines. A 24-hour per day rainwater collector is located near the stadium; after water is purified, it is used throughout and around the stadium. Pipes placed under the playing surface gather heat in the winter to warm the stadium and coldness in the summer to cool the stadium. The stadium's design originally called for a capacity of 100,000 people; however 9,000 were removed during a simplification of the design. The new total of 91,000 would be shaved further when 11,000 temporary seats were removed after the 2008 Olympics; bringing the stadium's capacity to 80,000. The highest seat is 460 feet (140 metres) from center field. Temperature and airflow of every surface were optimized to increase ventilation.
Beijing National Stadium hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, athletic events, and football final of the 2008 Summer Olympics, from 8 August to 24 August 2008. The stadium also hosted the Opening and Closing ceremonies and athletic events of the 2008 Summer Paralympics from 6 September to 17 September 2008. Though designed for track & field events of the Olympics, the stadium will continue to host sporting events, such as football, afterwards. A shopping mall and a hotel, with rooms overlooking the field, are planned to help increase use after the Olympics. Li stated, "This will become the most important public space in Beijing."

Water Cube [H2O]³

Water Cube
Full name: Beijing National Aquatics Center
City: Beijing
Capacity: 17.000
Built 2003-2008

National Aquatics Center, the landmark building of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, is located inside the Beijing Olympic Green. The planning area of the NSC is 62950m², and the total floor area is 65,000 - 80,000m², in which the underground component is not less than 15,000 m². The total seating capacity is 17,000, including 6,000 permanent and 11,000 temporary for Games which will be removed post-Games.

construction video;
The construction of the building will last 3 years (2003-2006). The total investment of the project is around 100 million US dollar.
Comprising a steel space frame, it is the largest ETFE clad structure in the world with over 100,000 m² of ETFE pillows that are only 0.2 mm (1/125 of an inch) in total thickness. The ETFE cladding allows more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30% decrease in energy costs.

The outer wall is based on the Weaire–Phelan structure, a structure devised from the natural formation of bubbles in soap foam. The Water Cube's exterior cladding is made of 4,000 ETFE bubbles, some as large as 9.14 meters (30 feet) across, with seven different sizes for the roof and 15 for the walls. Although called the Water Cube, the aquatic center is really a rectangular box (cuboid)- 178 meters (584 feet) square and 31 meters (102 feet) high.


Michael Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics, eight at the 2008 Beijing Games. One of the more popular theories behind Michael Phelps zooming past records with every stroke—besides his $500 LZR super suit—is that the Olympic pool itself gives the swimmers their strength. The Water Cube has no extra features than other olympic pools. Howerver, originally, the architects wanted it to have porous walls, like a sponge, that would really absorb waves. The spongey walls would have been so effective in neutralizing speed-killing waves, it might have profoundly changed the sport. And the other change, were new starting podiums with a flap, giving swimmers something to push off from, which testing showed cut a tenth of a second off times. However these ideas were never realised.


A interview with one of the designers of the watercube; Mao Hongwei

“This is the most advanced speed swimming pool in the world.” said Mao Hongwei. “The depth was one meter deeper than previous Olympic venues. And that is not all. The design of water temperature, water quality and overflow sink etc. have ensured the swimming pool to be in the best standard.”
Generally speaking, the water temperature would affect the athletes achievement. As stipulated by International Swimming Federation (ISF), the temperature should be between 25℃ and 27℃. “However the water temperature was precisely controlled between 26.5℃ and 26.9℃. The athletes would feel comfortable. Since adopting independent air-conditioner system. No matter how the temperature changed in the auditorium, the swimming pool remains constant temperature.” introduced Mao.

The water quality in the Water Cube is alike drinking water. “Such great water quality naturally make the athletes excited, and benefit for them to get good achievement.” said Mao. The water turbidity in swimming pool was required within 5 NTU (NTU is Wephelomefric Turbidity Unit). While it was only 0.1 NTU in the Water Cube. “In fact the ISF has ever proposed to increase the water quality to 0.1 NTU, but many developed countries objected since it was too rigorous. So ISF amended the Constitution that the turbidity only need to reach the standard of the country. And we made it as per the preliminary standard. Such water quality was hardly found in other country.”

The design of the overflow sink was more advanced. In order to eliminate the resistance of water wave when swam onward. The pool has special overflow sinks around. In normal “high edge” which is the poolside higher than the surface, the athlets in the outside lanes were in disadvantage for they might be affected by the wave striken back. While in Water Cube it was designed in “even edge” which the height of surface and poolside is the same. And the slope gradient in the poolside as well as the function of overflow sink could exterminate the water wave, avoiding different treatment of the athletes. Furthermore if the athlete swims in turn, the wave might prevent him when he stepped the wall under the start. As for this detail, the designer also installed overflow sinks in the all under the start, which assured the surplus water flowed away.

Above the wall in the stand there was a round of ventilator scoop, blowing fresh air. “Only two swimming pools have such design in the world. One is the Water Cube, the other is in Sydney.” said Mao, “It will be stuffy if many people stayed in a room for long time. In such large-scale venue, providing abundant fresh air was benefit for their good achievement.” The wind speed was strictly controlled within 0.2s/m that athletes can hardly feel it.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License