Constructor: National Stadium, Beijing, CN
Architects: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel
Location: Beijing, CN
Adress: Beicheng East Road, Chaoyang District
Photos: Werner Huthmacher, Berlin, D
After a construction period of three and a half years, on 18th April 2008 the National Stadium in the northern part of Beijing was inaugurated with an athletics competition. Already in 2002, the Basel architectural office Herzog & de Meuron had won the international competition for building the stadium, yet the construction was not started until 2005. As regards urban development, the stadium as well as the neighbouring Olympic Pool are located on one of the most important axes through the city, the Imperial Axis. The two sports facilities in the Olympic Grounds extend the route on which, in the city centre, are such famous landmarks as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square as well as the Mao Mausoleum. The new stadium has become a symbolic building of the city with millions of inhabitants; at least, the people of Beijing have already found a nickname for the building which is 320 metres long, 300 metres wide and 70 metres high and has a distinctive steel façade: the Bird’s Nest. The exterior steel network was welded together on site from numerous pre-fabricated components – all in all, 42,000 tons of steel were used. The steel network not only serves as the façade, it also roofs over the stadium: the free spaces between the steel braces were filled on the outside with ETFE foil and on the inside with acoustic membranes, only an oval in the middle was left open. During the Olympic Games, the inner reinforced-concrete bowl which, to lessen the tensions, is not connected with the outside shell, seated 91,000 guests on three tiers – after the event, the number was reduced to 80,000. As the accentuating colour, red was used in the whole stadium: red chairs, walls and glass parapets create an attractive contrast to the colours of the materials steel and concrete as well as to the grey linoleum floor of the traffic areas.