Autorizzazione Tribunale di Roma n. 378 del 30/09/2005
Rivista bimestrale -Anno IV- Giugno/agosto 2008, n.15

The Bird net (part.)

The Water Cube at night

Herzog and De Meuron are flying to Beijing. The stadium they projected for the 2008 Olympic Games of Beijing - “bird’s nest” shaped – is officially ready. After a four years long wait the Beijing National Stadium has been opened to the public in spite of the problems which have occurred regularly: its location, its eco-compatibility, the realization of a high-complexity structure, smog…
This astonishing Swiss work has been commissioned in order to replace the traditional stadium of the city of Canton , the Guangdong Olympic Stadium (1999), which is too far from the capital city. A winning choice! The Swallow Nest – symbol of the Chinese Olympics – is the pride of Beijing, a futuristic work that valorizes the world’s most ancient games. During some interviews the architects Herzog and De Meuron explained that the inspiration for a first planning elaboration went from the paintings of contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and that the shape of the facility reminds a fundamental symbol of the local culture such as the swallow nest.
The “Temple of the Athletes” is an athlete friendly structure to the most little particular: from the absence of casual ventilation to the study of a covering membrane that creates shade while filtrating homogeneously the external light. It’s also an amazing synthesis between architecture, technology and design, a fascinating intertwining of light and steel, colors and functionality. Forty meters tall, two hundred and twenty meters wide and three hundred and thirty meters long, it’s the technologically perfect building for the Olympic Games: 45.000 tons are going to welcome 91.000 spectators!
Its characteristic feature is the roof which is independent from the building’s structural context and shaped by a number of intertwined metallic bars in order to create the semi-transparent apertures where the light is filtered. Technology at its finest.
Like the most of the twelve works that have been commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games of Beijing, the stadium is powered by photovoltaic installations and solar panels, water recovering and wind protecting/exploiting systems. Unfortunately, during the realization of the project, the idea of building a moving facility that would have been able to close the area in case of bad weather due to security matters. The magnificence of the stadium by Herzog and De Meuron is indisputable and its technical perfection makes it comparable to the roman arena’s “functional beauty”.
The waiting for the Swallow Nest’s opening ( that will be simultaneous to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games) is thrilling the lovers of both architecture and sports. In fact, they are completely unaware of a great number of details while only a few lucky politicians had the opportunity to visit the stadium: their comments make us think it will surely be a big surprise! The Beijing Water Cube (by Australian architects PTW) is another one of the twelve works for the Beijing Olympic organization plan: what makes it great is the use of EFTE (a particular type of Teflon) for the hanging panels on the whole building’s perimeter. Their shape and their chemical composition makes them look like color-changing soap bubbles when reflecting the sunlight.
But their aim is not only mere esthetic appearance, each bubble serves a purpose: they are projected to capture the more sunlight as possible and then to transform it into the energy to warm up the water of the Olympic swimming-pool. Curious thing is that in reality its water is depurated and treated rainwater! There will be other temporary facilities and old buildings’ restoration accompanying the Swallow Nest and the Water Cube, and August is coming to reveal all of the Beijing’s mysteries!

traduzione: Daniele Mastropietro

The new Beijing Stadium, the “Swallow Nest”

Thanks to Mr. Zhang Jianda of the Cultural Office of the Chinese Embassy in Rome for the kind permission to the use of the images.