Bird's Nest wins award

ARCHITECTURE

Bird's Nest wins award

The National Stadium, a landmark building specially constructed for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, has won the prestigious Lubetkin Prize for the most outstanding work of architecture outside the European Union by a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The  award was presented at a formal ceremony in Whitehall, London, on July 14.

Nicknamed the “Bird’s Nest” owing to the web of twisting steel sections that form the roof, the world-class stadium was designed by the Swiss firm of Herzog & Meuron Architekten, Arup Sport and the China Architectural Design & Research Group. 

The Lubetkin Prize is named after the world-renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin (1901-1990). 

Lubetkin’s daughter, Sasha, presented the winning architects with a unique cast bronze plaque, based loosely on her father’s design for the Penguin Pool at London Zoo, commissioned by RIBA and designed and made by the artiste Petr Weigl. Speaking about the award-winning Chinese building, the President of RIBA, Sunand Prasad, said, “The National Stadium in Beijing will for a long time to come, and around the world, remain amongst the most memorable emblems of 2008 and of the resurgence of China as a global power.”

The National Stadium survived competition from five other shortlisted buildings for the Lubetkin Prize, including Beijing International Airport Terminal 3 and the National  Swimming Centre (popularly called “the Water Cube”) in Beijing built for last year’s Olympic Games. The 91,000-seat Beijing National Stadium, work on which first began at the end of 2003, incorporates elements of Chinese art and culture (a member of the design team was a Chinese artiste).

The stadium is 333 metres long from north to south, 294 metres wide from east to west, and 69.2 metres tall.

As a result of changes to the original design, the total consumption of steel in the main structure has been reduced by as much as 22 per cent.

To keep costs down, all the structural elements of the stadium are contained within it, so there are no towers or cable nets.  The bowl of the structure is split into eight zones, each with its own stability system. 

Entrance to the stadium is controlled by tripod barriers supplied and fabricated by a German company.  The project involved the installation of 138 of these units at the 12 ingresses of the stadium.

The Beijing stadium was also designed keeping in mind the Paralympic Games (for the disabled) taking place soon after the summer Olympic Games. For this, the total number of spaces for wheelchairs had to be increased considerably and put into various locations around the stadium, in both competitor and spectator areas.  The stadium will host other sports such as football and events including concerts. One end of the stadium has amphitheatres that could be used to stage concerts once the grass is covered over.

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