Beijing National Stadium by night

The Bird’s Nest

Wonderfulness is right before you. Bird’s Nest is always with you proclaims a sign at the entrance to the still magnificent 2008 Olympic Stadium.

The spectacular Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, hailed as the finest arena in the world and the centre-piece 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 forms 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, centered on the Forbidden City.

Located in the Olympic Green, the US$423 million stadium is the world’s largest steel structure. The design was awarded to a submission from the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in April 2003. The design, which was inspired by a study of Chinese ceramics, implemented steel beams in order to hide supports for the retractable roof; giving the stadium the appearance of a “Bird’s nest”.