Olympics 2008, Beijing
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.
These new and/or upgraded stadiums are built all over Beijing.
During the Olympic Games, you cannot enter to visit them or step into the compound around them unless you have a ticket for the event on that day due to crowd and security concerns.
Now that the Olympic and Paralympic Games are over, it is worth visiting them to see the architecture modern wonders where Olympic history was made. Like the Basketball Stadium where USA Basket Men's team won their gold medal beating Spain where David Beckham attended. And where USA trounced China men's team with their superstar Yao Ming in the presence of US President George Bush Jr and First Lady Laura Bush.
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 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
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.
We had not meant to visit this but we met some fellow Israelis on top of the Great Wall and they said they had seen the stadium from the top of a high building next to the Olympic Site and so our guide, Alvin said he would take us there too.
Actually it was more interesting than I had expected. We saw the stadium, the swimming pool and the strange Torch shaped building which are the athletes' living quarters.
China in general and Beijing in particular is in the grips of Olympic Games fever. Many companies use their sponsorship in their own marketing (well, that's only to be expected), so you see the logo almost everywhere. By the Tiananmen Square (outside the History Museum) there is a countdown clock counting days, hours and minutes until the Beijing Olympics opening event on 8 August 2008. For the Chinese, this date is very auspicious as 8 is a lucky number in Chinese thought, and imagine how lucky 3 times 8 would then be...! The fact that China got to arrange the Olympic Games is an infinite source of pride and much of Beijing in particular is being revamped to welcome the masses of athletes, journalists and sports fans.
There are shops selling Beijing Olympics paraphernalia; the five mascots in all possible sizes and shapes, t-shirts, hats, pens of all descriptions, mugs, bags...
Being China, also fakes abound, so the official manufacturers have taken precautions in a way that would seem an overkill in Europe. But not so in China, as I did see a lot of fakes being sold too. The real stuff is sold in special designated shops or stalls in big department stores, they have a label that has security features probably making some national bank managers green with envy. As stated on the label: 1. There is a 3 mm wide hologram thread on the label, 2. Beijing 2008 is embossed on the lower part of the front side, 3. The label's design is embossed on the front side.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.