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Beijing Olympic Venues

Beijing Olympics: Beijing's Olympic Venues

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Beijing's Olympic Venues

Ron Lorenz

On July 13th, 2001, Beijing, the capital of China, won the bid to host the 29th Olympic Games. The 2008 Beijing Olympics will have 28 sports, of which 26 will be held in Beijing. For this grand event, the city has 31 Olympic venues, 11 new ones, 11 reconstructed venues and nine temporary ones. The scale and speed of construction of both venues and urban infrastructure, is unprecedented. The city has been getting the mother of all facelifts.

National Stadium

National Stadium, Beijing. National Stadium, Beijing.

A giant latticework structure of metal girders is rising and attracting people's attention in the north east part of Beijing. This is the National Stadium. It is a huge combination of various shaped steel struts, girders and brackets forming a structure resembling a giant bird's nest. It is already another landmark building in this ancient and rapidly modernizing city.

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron are internationally famous architects. In 2001, they won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the world's most prestigious architecture award. In March 2003, during the collection and judging of designs for the National Stadium, Herzog and De Meuron's design for the Bird's Nest beat their competitors and highly impressed the judges. The Bird's Nest, formally the National Stadium, is 333 metres long south to north by 280 meters wide and has 91,000 seats. It will be the main track and field stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics and also the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.

The earthwork for National Stadium started in December 2003. The design is unusual in that this massive building supports its own weight without relying on any supporting structures like large pillars. The twig-like structural elements are the key to this, but they posed great challenges to the technicians and workers who needed to make the building stand, as it were, on its own two feet.

The steel skeleton of the project weighs 42,000 tons, with the roof and the hanging parts around it accounting for 11,200 tons. To bear such a heavy load during construction, 78 supporting structures were temporarily installed under the stress points. There are 24 supporting structures along the outer circle, 24 in the middle circle and 30 in the inner circle. Together, they primarily support the 11,200 ton weight of the roof and parts around it. Jacks were used to install and remove the temporary supports and install the steel skeleton. Jacking pads with a height of 100 mm to 200 mm were placed on top of the supports. In order to ensure that no temporary supports or parts of the permanent frame were put under excessive stress, careful attention had to be paid to the order in which supports were unloaded.

Birds Nest, Beijing, China.

The National Stadium after completion in 2008

National Aquatics Center.National Aquatics Center.

National Aquatics Center

Not far from the Bird's Nest is the National Aquatics Center, dubbed the "Ice cube." The contrasting square and round shapes are a traditional Chinese design concept. It reflects a sense of symmetry and harmony. Furthermore, in keeping with the traditional concept of city layout, these important structures lie on the central axis of Beijing.

The magnificent Forbidden City is located at the center of Beijing. While Beijing has changed enormously in recent years, the composition and structure of the city still retains the basic pattern of 700 years ago. The old city is square, with each side nearly 10 kilometers long. The central axis of Beijing nearly equally divides the city into the east and the west to create a balance. Located on the north part of the central axis, the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube are two of most important venues of the Beijing Olympics. The Water Cube resembles an enormous blue square box. During the Beijing Olympic Games, it will be used for swimming, diving, synchronized-swimming and water polo events.

While the National Aquatics Center was still being designed, the architectural design for the National Stadium was approved. It was decided that the exterior design of the National Aquatics Center should not only be unique, but also a harmonious compliment to the strong, yet elegant, curved shape of the National Stadium.

Later, the designers came up with a great idea, namely, to add some water molecule-like bubbles to the Water Cube's surface. The Water Cube is the world's first bubble structure building. Its rectangular, even shape and surface of bubbles, make for a magnificent, almost surreal sight.

The Water Cube has a protective overcoat composed of a high tech membrane structure, which is a brand new architectural form. The venue contains a range of other high tech features, such as the ETFE membrane, which, for the scientists among you, consists of pneumatic cushions manufactured from multiple layers of modified co-polymer called ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene. This new material is extremely durable and adaptable.

Water Cube, Beijing, China.

The National Aquatics Center, Beijing

The National Aquatics Center illuminated at night.

The National Aquatics Center, Beijing

In contrast to the outdoor swimming pools used to host the swimming events of past Olympic Games, the National Aquatics Center is completely enclosed. However, the ETFE outer membrane structure allows 90% of the sunlight in, so that natural light will be available inside for up to nine hours a day. Another environmentally friendly function of the Water Cube is to store rainwater that falls on its top in a storage pond underneath the building for use and recycling. In addition, the water cube's ETFE outer membrane does not attract dust, and what dust does settle on it is blown away by a light wind.

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, visited the National Aquatic Center on October 24th, 2006. He said that he felt he was inside a big wonderful bubble and that the water cube will become a world famous architectural masterpiece like the Sydney Opera House.

Beijing Shooting Range Hall

The Shooting and Archery Administrative General Administration of Sport is in west Beijing's Shijingshan District. It is also the site of the Shooting Range Hall of the Beijing Olympics. After four years of construction, the Beijing Shooting Range Hall is now finished. The qualifying rounds and finals of 11 shooting events - the 10 meter, 25 meter, and 50 meter range events - will be held here. The Beijing Shooting Range Hall is China's biggest such venue, and with the largest number of target positions.

The 10 meter Shooting Range Hall is 260 meters long, with space for 80 target positions to be working at the same time. But lots of people firing guns in such a huge hall would be a very noisy business, so the problem of sound absorption had to be addressed.

The 50 meter Shooting Range Hall is a combination of indoor firing positions and outdoor targets. It means that the sharpshooters and spectators are under cover, while the range and targets are outside. This meant another problem had to be solved that of cold and hot air exchanges between the indoor and outdoor areas, especially in hot weather.

The 2008 Olympic Shooting Range Clay Pigeon Field is next to the Beijing Shooting Range Hall. This world class facility has six shooting spots and is equipped with advanced clay pigeon throwers. It will be used for a total of five clay pigeon matches.

Beijing Shooting Range Hall. Beijing Shooting Range Hall.

Wukesong Culture and Sports Center

The Wukesong Culture and Sports Center is west Beijing's most important Olympic venue. Its total land area is 52,000 square meters, including the Wukesong Indoor Stadium and Wukesong Baseball Field, as well as other sports and commercial facilities. The Wukesong Culture and Sports Center is an Olympic venue complex that runs along a line extending westwards from Chang'an Avenue. After the Games, it will be west Beijing''s main culture and sports center.

The motto for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is "One World, One Dream."
Welcome to Beijing 2008.

National Stadium 国家体育场(鸟巢)
National Aquatics Center国家游泳中心(水立方)


Bus: Yuntong 113,386,407,656,737,740,753,804,827,839,939,944,983 to BeichenQiaoXi (北辰桥西) or 510 to GuojiaTiyuguan (国家体育馆)

Subway: AotiZhongxin (奥体中心) is the closest subway station to the stadium. Take Line 8.
Alternatively take Line 10 to XiongmaoHuandao (熊猫环岛) Station and change to Line 8 for AotiZhongxin (奥体中心) Station.
Another option would be to take Line 5 to BeituchengDongLu (北土城东路) Station, change to Line 10 for XiongmaoHuandao (熊猫环岛) Station and change to Line 8 for AotiZhongxin (奥体中心) Station.