National Stadium (Bird’s Nest)

  • The building’s dynamic form creates a new icon for China and the city of Beijing.
  • Design ensures that all spectators are as close as possible to the action and have clear sight lines.
  • Gross floor area 254,600m2 with seating capacity for 91,000 including 11,000 temporary seats.

The Chinese National Stadium was the 2008 Olympic Games’ most striking structure, recognised all over the world. The building’s dynamic form and vast scale create a new icon for China and the city of Beijing.

The circular shape of the stadium represents 'heaven', while the adjacent square form of the National Aquatics Center (Water Cube), also design-engineered by Arup, is a reflection of the Chinese symbol for Earth.

The structural form of the stadium is popularly described as a 'bird’s nest', with its pattern inspired by Chinese-style 'crazed pottery'. Seemingly random, the pattern abides by complex rules for which advanced geometry was defined.

To ensure a compact and optimum design, the seating bowl was established first, with the outer façade wrapping around it. The design ensures that all spectators are as close as possible to the action and have clear sight lines.

As Beijing is located in one of the world’s most active seismic zones, Arup used advanced seismic analysis to test the stadium under various earthquake conditions and ensure that the structure can withstand major shocks.

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  • Beijing National Stadium at night, showing reflection in water below. Credit Min Yu Sun.Open gallery

    The circular shape of the stadium represents Heaven.

  • Detail of the Beijing National Stadium structue. Credit Jeremy Stern.

    The design leaves spectators wondering which aspects of the structure are functional and which have been included for appearance alone.