• 10:31:28 am on September 14, 2008 | 0
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    The mythology:

    The spectacular Bird’s Nest stadium, hailed as the finest arena in the world and the centrepiece of the most expensive Olympics in history, is full of hidden symbolism.

    In Chinese mythology, the sun is represented by a circle and the moon by a square, reflected by the shape of the bird’s nest and the Water Cube aquatic centre opposite, reinforced when the venues are lit at night, red for the Bird’s Nest and blue for the Water Cube.

    The shapes also echo the Chinese symbols for male and female, and are built either side of the north-south axis road which runs in a perfect straight line for three miles through Beijing, centred on the Forbidden City.

    The design:

    Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the stadium has a revolutionary design, which was chosen at the end of a six month long international competition.

    Itcomprises an outer skeleton of 42,000 tons of steel, making it three times as heavy as the proposed London 2012 stadium, and an inner ‘skin’ of double-layered plastic which keeps out wind and rain and filters out UVA light.

    It is designed to last for 100 years and withstand a force eight magnitude earthquake.

    Architectural critics have said the National Stadium, to use its official name, sets standards of construction which may not be surpassed for decades.

    Until they designed the Bird’s Nest, Herzog & de Meuron were best known for converting London’s Bankside power station into Tate Modern and for designing the tyre-shaped Allianz Arena in Munich for the 2006 World Cup.

    The cost and the controversy:

    The £250 million arena represents just a fraction of the £20 billion spent on venues and infrastructure in the run-up to the Games – more than double the budget for London 2012.

    However, the stadium has been dogged by controversy, as 6,000 homes were demolished to make way for it and there were claims that 10 people died in accidents during the four years it has taken to build, though the Chinese government said there were two deaths.

    Construction was also halted following the collapse of a terminal building at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, which shared some architectural elements, and the design was altered.

    The facilities:

    The 91,000-seater venue has a four-star hotel with 80 rooms under one of its sides, a gourmet restaurant with views of the athletics track, and a twin-level underground shopping centre.

    Its architects also claim it is one of the most environmentally-friendly stadiums in the world, as undersoil geothermal pipes help heat indoor parts of stadium in winter and rainwater is collected and stored in underground cisterns for irrigation and to flush lavatories.”


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