Travel Memories: Beijing's Bird's Nest

Posted on July 24, 2012 by eelengchang | 0 Comments

The 2012 London Olympics is about to kick off in a few days and I'm super excited! I love everything about the Olympics, the sports, the opening ceremony, the Olympic spirit...and the stadiums!

When we visited Beijing late last year, one of the must-see things on my list was the Bird's Nest Stadium that was the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On the day we visited, it was really cold and really misty, not exactly the nicest day for walking around for hours around a big open complex with no indoor areas to get warm. But I think it was definitely worth it because the Bird's Nest is exquisitely beautiful! 


Some stats: the structure is made up of 110,000 tons of steel and at the height of its construction, employed 17,000 construction workers. It has the capacity to seat 80,000 spectators. 

Up close, it sure is massive and grand! The outer 'cage' that gives the stadium its bird's nest- like appearance also cleverly hides all the support beams and support structures within it, like stair cases, pathways. It looks random, yet at the same time neat and consistent. From a distance, the shapes created were really beautiful and organic and somehow felt 'soft' but when close, the 'steelness' of it looks so strong and unwielding. I just thought it was a lovely way to use such a hard material to achieve such a graceful looking structure. 


At night, the Bird's Nest is lit up and just looks so gorgeous! There is a river winding through the Olympic complex and the most amazing view of the stadium is definitely from across the river. The blue lights are from the Aquatic Centre, another impressive piece of architecture. Though impressive, I thought the Bird's Nest completely overshadowed the Aquatic Centre!

I was really enamored by the Bird's Nest but at the same time, I felt a little sad. Though there were quite a few tourists around, the whole area felt quite lonely and desolate. I'm guessing that they had to choose a fairly big and empty space to build the Olympic Village but 3 years on, not much development seemed to have happened in the surrounding areas. I hope that the stadium will be used for more events, it seems such a waste for such a lovely structure to sit in a big open space with no real purpose besides looking pretty. And pretty it definitely is!

What I did find inspiring about the Bird's Nest is that I feel it fits right into the historical splendour of Beijing. On the one hand, you have the mighty Great Wall and the elaborately lovely Forbidden City amongst all the other beautiful ancient historical places. And then, there's the very ugly, utilitarian office buildings, modern, huge but not beautiful. The Birds' Nest joins the best of the now and then. Hyper modern but still with a hearty nod to the beauty, history and culture of China's past. 

If you're visiting Beijing, I recommend mixing in a visit to the Bird's Nest in between climbing the Great Wall and exploring the Forbidden City! 

Now that I've had time to reflect on my memories of the Bird's Nest, I really can't wait to see what splendid stadiums London has in store for us! Happy Olympics everyone!

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