Boom. Boom. Boom. Two thousand and eight percussionists skillfully silence the roaring crowds with the perfectly synched pounding of traditional Chinese drums, captivating each and every member of the audience with entrancing beats and invigorating sounds. Tap. Tap. Tap. The crisp tight choreography of more than fifteen thousand performers highlights China’s lush 5,000 year-long history, hypnotizing onlookers with the grace and elegance of each individual gesture. Four years ago, China’s Zhang Yimou astounded international spectators as each watched the mind-blowing Opening Ceremony for the Beijing Olympics in admiration, officially cementing the nation’s grand entrance into the global sphere. The Bird’s Nest Stadium, the venue for this truly unforgettable event, is itself just as impressive and monumental, standing imposingly in the Olympic Green Village as a representation of China’s rise as the glowing torch of Asia.
Designed by the renowned contemporary artist Ai Weiwei in collaboration with Swiss architects, the Bird’s Nest Stadium can easily be described in a single word: ambitious. One of the top architectural structures in terms of caliber, design, and construction, this titanic stadium perfectly depicts China’s expanding power and might. Its well-assembled firm steel frames are an ideal representation of the nation’s now fixed position as a global superpower. Covering an area of about 258 thousand square meters and capable of accommodating more than 91,000 spectators, the Stadium’s colossal size parallels China’s already sizable, and consistently increasing, populace. Its flexible and innovative design was carefully fabricated with a focus on both function and aesthetic. A unique aspect of the stadium’s overall blueprint is that regardless of where the spectator is seated, there is no visual obstruction in his or her view. With its futuristic façade, the National Stadium quickly rose as a symbol of not only China’s increasing power in the global economy and international politics, but also, as a benchmark in modern architecture.
What differentiates the Bird’s Nest Stadium from London’s “bowl-like” Olympic Stadium? Both have set milestones in architecture not only in terms of their state of the art design, but also sustainability and versatility. On the one hand, the Olympic Stadium for the London Olympics was well-crafted with a primary focus on sustainability, using “green” elements such as rejected plastic crates and low-carbon concrete in the structure’s overall construction. On the other, the Bird’s Nest Stadium was laid out with more of a focus on aesthetics than on sustainability. Though the exterior steel frames look somewhat chaotic, each was thoughtfully calculated and organized into a balanced design. Regardless of whether it stresses façade or being “green”, the stadiums of London and Beijing have both individually made marks in the history of modern architecture and influenced the future of architectonics.
Even after the current London Olympics, relive the glory of this truly universal event on your next trip to Beijing. Take an early evening stroll in the Olympic Green Village to see firsthand the mesmerizing red and golden hued backdrop the setting sun creates for the Bird’s Nest Stadium. For architecture fanatics, WildChina is happy to organize a tour focused on exploring the various architectural and structural elements of this awe-inspiring edifice with one of our very own top experts. If you’re traveling with kids, join the locals and relax while flying kites in the nearby park. As the glorious sun slowly sets, the Bird’s Nest Stadium shines like a gold medal, a constant reminder of China’s entrance to the global stage as an economic and political superpower.
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