The design resembling a bird’s nest was inspired from the art of Chinese ceramics and its purpose is to leave the spectators wondering which aspects of the structure are functional and which are only included for design purposes.
The stadium is located in the Olympic Green and one of the main ideas behind the design was to create an icon for China and the city of Beijing. The shape was chosen so that it would express something related to the Chinese traditions and culture; its circular form represents Heaven while the adjacent square resembles the Chinese symbol for Earth. The consultant for the making of this complex shape was Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
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 led by chief architect Li Xinggang. In order to achieve the design of a stadium that was “porous” while also being “a collective building, a public vessel”, the team studied Chinese ceramics. These to main conceptual ideas gave birth 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.
The retractable roof required a complex steel structure which was either covered or kept just the way it was as part of the design. The team developed „random-looking additional steel” to blend the supports into the rest of the stadium. In spite of the random appearance, each half of the stadium is nearly identical and together, they complete the design and make it look like a single, unitary shape. Due to the seismic activity in the area the architects decided to remove the retractable roof along with 9,000 seats from the design. The ensemble was lightened and the costs were reduced dramatically too.
The unique design makes this project stand out as a genuine structure that takes its inspiration from traditional sources, fact which turns this concept into a proper, 21st century building that combines contemporary architecture and technology with local beliefs and ideas.
Photo courtesy to: Arup Ben McMillan
Client: National Stadium Co Ltd
Arup Scope of Work: Full multidisciplinary service including sports architecture, structural, mechanical, electrical and public health engineering, acoustics, fire strategy, sports lighting and wind engineering
Seating Capacity: 91,000 including 11,000 temporary seats for the Games
Gross Floor Area: 254,600m2
Height: maximum 69.2m (266.4ft) above pitch level
Design Consortium: Arup, Herzog & De Meuron Architekten AG, China Architecture Design & Research Group
Completion Date: Early 2008