The centerpiece of the Beijing Olympics, the National Stadium, sits at the other end of the spectrum from my ‘solid’ post. A seemingly light and airy elliptical network of crisscrossing columns and beams, support asymmetric, translucent roof panels that challenge every rule book on architecture.
The brief entrusted to architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron was to design a stadium that was different from anything they had done before, and that was required to be “porous while also being a collective building, a public vessel“. They eventually arrived at the “Nest” theme while studying Chinese ceramics for inspiration.
The statistics are staggering: 110,000 tons of steel (all made in China) including 24 trussed steel columns each measuring 1000 tons, 7,811 square meters of turf field (laid in 24 hours!), a seating capacity of 91,000, a four-star hotel with 80 rooms under one of its sides, a gourmet restaurant with views of the athletics track, a twin-level underground shopping centre, undersoil geothermal pipes for temperature control, 24 hour rainwater harvesting and recycling. The cost? A whopping US$423,000,000!
The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics held in this memorable stadium was supposed to underscore China’s arrival into the big league. That it did…and how!