Olympics 2008, Beijing
It was visible in Beijing the importance of the games for the country. Everything was being carefully prepared, and the huge volume of construction, is mostly directed to them. Roads, bridges, buildings, everything grows with the ease of a country where the state owes... everything.
There are no complicated dealings with private owners, no complicated formalism to respect. If the government decides to build, the local inhabitants receive order to move away, the old buildings are demolished, and construction begins.
It's noticeable the systematic replacement of the old quarters by new and bigger sky-scrappers. I got the idea that the city is loosing its character (I never had been there, didn't see the old Beijing). Hidden among the "monsters" under construction, the Olympic Stadium was getting shape, and revealing its destiny: to become one more monument in town, celebrating... modernity.
Yes! The games were the expected success, and the stadium now remains as a monument to modernity.
We took the metro to the previous Olympic Stadium, now it is the Beijing National Stadium. It is a huge park. The Bird Nest is the iconic building, follow by the Water Cube Building. This is still an important attraction for both local and international tourists. It is very expensive to visit the Bird Nest, so we skipped it. We enjoyed walking around the parks with a lot of Olympic art sculptures to symbolize the game. It is a huge park, it takes time to walk around, or you can hire those tram inside the park.
This sprawling stadium was built for the 2008 Summer Olympics and was nick-named the Birds Nest due to its unusual design. It can seat 80,000 people.
Following the Olympics, it was used for other sports events as well as an Opera. Future plans call for it to be the anchor to a shopping and entertainment complex.
A landmark of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Water Cube was constructed between December 2003 and January 2008, sponsored also by Chinese living in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. It is the National Aquatics Center of Beijing, and is an active sports center all year round.
The exterior is impressive, with a beautiful puzzle of glistening bubbles of hexagons and pentagons.
The entrance ticket is worth the price if you want to see the olympic swimming pool and jumping board, sit on the blue seats of the balcony, look at all the flags decorating the pool, close your eyes and re-live the excitement of the olympics.
What do Birds Nests and Watercubes have in common - they are both buildings now well recognised as stadiums for the Beijing Olympic Games of 2008.
The Birds Nest or Beijing National Stadium was the centrepiece of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Its amazing structure designed to camouflage the interior does indeed look like a birds nest.
The National Swimming Center or Watercube was built, as were all the stadiums, using environmentally friendly guidelines. Pool water was heated using solar energy, re-used rather than dumped as waste and topped up with rainwater from storage tanks.
The National Indoor Stadium has photovoltaic generators installed under the roof and behind the curtain walls of the structure which generated as much as 100 kilowatts of electricity daily.
In 2008 Beijing has hosted the Olympics. I watched the opening ceremony on TV and I was very impressed. The Bird's Nest and The Water Cube are amazing structures to look at. I could imagine Michael Phelps becoming a legend in Watercube. In my opinion, Beijing Olympic Games will always have a special place in Olympic history and I was very happy to be on the grounds where all this happened. You can easily reach Olympic Complex by metro and you can walk around the famous structures and take pictures. We haven't entered inside Bird's Nest or Water Cube, but you can do that with admission fees of 50 Yuan for Bird's Nest and 30 Yuan for Water Cube.
Beijing National Aquatics Centre or Water Cube (not really cube but rectangle box in real) at Olympic Green could be even more dramatic building than Birds nest, and it has won several international architectural prizes for design which has been based on Australian-Chinese architectural and engineer teams plans. It is large stadium where they held water sports competitions, with transparent facade of fragile feel and blue colors, all to remind you of water.
The outside 'net' was inspired by bubbles of soap foam formula, and has been build of plastic construction material so that you could actually see a bit through it; more precisely - it was build of ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) air cushions if that tells you more (the cost for that material was supposed to be 2000 Y per square meter, which was as well cheaper (and lighter) than glass). It took some 3000 bubbles to complete the facade. Very interesting. It is also said they could collect rain water with help of bubbles, so that's good thing and I hope it's actually done since Beijing needs so much of water.
Yet, no matter all poetry behind the plans and architecture, it has already some problems with maintainance and for time of our visit just some 6 months after Olympics the Cube has already been fenced and you were only allow to watch it from distance, like the fine artwork you're just to watch in gallery but not to touch and come any closer for physical conact. So it does feel a bit sour feeling, as architecture is meant for use, not to watch only...or? After all, they promised it would 'live' for at least one century.
More information here: http://en.beijing2008.cn/venues/nac/index.shtml
One of the latest finished large projects in Beijing is Olympic Green; it can be easily accessed by subway Line 8 (change from Line 10 at Beitucheng station) although that can get pretty crowded when large groups of local tourists flaw the trains.
Crowds then disperse within vast paved areas and the main attraction here is National stadium or Bird nest where they held opening ceremony, athletics and football competition. It is remarkable and giant construction, well...in a way. The architecture was executed by Swiss architects upon advice of local artist and yes, it may be well one of better designed stadiums in the world which cost was estimated to 500 mio USD, and it took some 5 years of construction before it was officially open. Main construction material is Chinese steel. Visible thick construction lines intersect one with eachother at 'random' angles, making it appear as one whole huge net with human appear so small and tiny when standing next to it.
Here open areas between stadiums appear as powerful 'blank' spaces, it feels sometimes like being on a huge square with very long views, the trees are yet too young and too tiny to enjoy the place under blazing sun so if you're there other than cold months you'd be better in the area early in the morning or late in afternoon. There are sculptures at side area, and upon subway exit there are paved gardens with flowering trees and benches to sit down, yet all incorporated into modern age and design (with some traditional elements). Few places nearer to nest allow you to sit under parasol, then other sell you drink and snacks and all that - and yes, with not much activites happening here on that huge area; it feels like the whole purpose of it is just symbolic and so you come here just to see the buildings and leave. It doesn't entertain you for long and you leave it with feel the project doesn't serve Beijing public very well after all. Reality differs a lot from was was planned on paper, just too little shade and shelter provided by trees and bamboo, it is so much concrete instead.
In walking distance to nest you can then examine the Cube.
More on construction and other data for Bird's nest: http://www.n-s.cn/en/
Beijing was the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics and the National Stadium hosted some of the competitions.
It took about 4.5 years to construct this marvelous stadium, that has a capacity of 80,000 spectators. I really liked the fact that the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center have designs inspired by nature (in my humble opinion). The design, looking like a giant steel bird's nest, was a little bit controversial - I guess that's how it goes with most new things.
The Olympic competitions hosted here were the athletic competitions and the football final as well as the unforgettable opening and closing ceremonies.
The day we visited, there was a temporary (free) exhibition of wax statues of past IOC chairmen.
As of Oct 2009, the entry fee was 50 RMB.
Niau Chau ( Bird's nest ), we went there at night time to see the beautiful lightning of the Bird's nest and Water cube. There were excellent place .. feel the glory of the Olympic 2008 moment at that time.
We took subway line 8 to the Olympic green.
This is something that has to be seen when you visit Beijing.
Yes everyone has seen the birds-nest and the water cube on TV, but seeing it in person is totally another thing again.
The track inside the birds-nest is actually sunken below ground level to allow better viewing for the spectators.
THe finish on the Birds-nest is apparently a paint that will prohibit corrosion for a minimum of 99 years.
The VIP hotel right next door is built in the shape of a dragon, and is now multi million dollar apartments.
tips1:enter from south gate, north gate exit.
tips2:no lighters or any kind of knives.
tips3:there is a 5rmb coupon with ticket, but you cannot use it to buy drinks or food only souvenirs, and the cheapest souvenir cost 38rmb.
tips1:don't bring any lighter or fruit knife with you when you going to go inside of Nest, otherwise you can never get them back. because if you bring something like that have to leave them at the entrance, and you cannot even walk close to the entrance again after you through it. i lost my favorite lighter that way...
tips2:there is only one north side gate open for entrance (Gate L) , and only one gate(Gate B) to exit which is on the southwest side.
tips3:even there are over 6 windows to sell the tickets at the same time, you still have to wait at least 10mins, so many people...
Just because you failed to qualify in your country's Olympic Trial in 2008 does not mean you'll never find yourself inside the Bird's Nest. For a mere RMB 50, you could still go inside today and you'd be in plentiful company.
For an extra fee, you could even have your picture taken on the medalist podium. Sorry the only national anthem you'll hear is the one on your ipod.
They need to milk this thing while the Olympics is still fresh on people's minds. You can take a subway here, very convenient. Although the subway line is not well marked at the transfer point. Both the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube are open. 50 RMB to get into the Bird's Nest. Same for the Water Cube. Not much to do but to take a lot of pictures.