The Bird’s Nest

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.

Bird’s Nest, Beijing

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.

Bird’s Nest, Beijing

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!

Bird’s Nest, Beijing

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!

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Hi, I'm Madhu. Wanderer. Travel blogger. Story teller. Bitten late and hard by the travel bug, I am on a mission to make up for lost time.

56 thoughts on “The Bird’s Nest

    1. Indeed. As do several other countries.
      I don’t know about China, but i feel strongly about developing countries, India in particular, with huge populations below the poverty line, bidding for extravagant sporting events. Only the very rich and the politicians gain from it. Not the sport or the country.

  1. Great post! It’s hard to capture the greatness of that impressive stadium, but you did it well!
    I fear I would walk out too, and in tears. I had a hard enough time at a small-pueblo rodeo when the clowns were basically tormenting a young bull. It’s hard to stand by when in another culture, and there’s an insensitivity to another living thing, plant or animal.
    Thanks, the images are great!

    1. I went several years ago for the romance, the atmosphere in a packed arena was indeed electric. But fighting a tortured and weakened bull was not my idea of fair play. We could sense that the magnificent animal just knew it had no chance. I couldn’t stand to see the end. Our cab driver was disappointed that we did not GET the essence of the fight. We really didn’t.

      1. Yes, sometimes when I witness or realize how very little our species has evolved spiritually, a feeling of great sadness and shame washes over me. Thankfully we cross paths with some who are more evolved, and we have hope in the future. You belong in the latter group, as do most of our WordPress friends.

  2. Hats off two Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron for designing such a wonderful architecture. And these pictures are really beautiful. Great post. 🙂

  3. What a beauty! With so much steel material, it’s fascinating how light and airy it looks! And how interesting that it’s a “birds nest” – as that is one the of the most popular Chinese dishes known and often featured at Chinese weddings – a symbol of prosperity?

    1. Thanks Angeline. Did you watch it in person??? That would have been something. It was spectacular enough watching it on TV.

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