In an interview with China Daily reporter Lei Lei, Li Xinggang, the chief architect of China's part of the National Stadium, the "Bird's Nest", discussed his experiences while working on the design of the venue.
How did you become the chief Architect of China's part of the National Stadium?
My experience is very simple. In 1991, I graduated from School of Architecture of Tianjin University and entered the China Architecture Design and Research Group, the former Architecture Design Institute Ministry of Construction. At present, I'm the deputy chief architect of the China
Architecture Design and Research Group and the director of Atelier Li Xinggang.
In 1998, I studied in France on scholarship.
In November 2002, China Architecture Design and Research Group decided to cooperate with Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in the international competition for conceptual design of the National Stadium, the main venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and I was appointed to be the chief Architect of China's part for the design. As to why I was named to the position, I think it may be because I have enough experience in designing, as well as professional scope of vision and the ability of working across different cultures.
What was your feeling when the "Bird's Nest" won the bid?
Actually, while designing the scheme, we thought that it was such a good, modern design that it would be accepted and liked by Chinese culture. The results from the judging panel, together with the public exhibition and voting, gradually justified our initial thoughts about it. When I got the official document to confirm that we won the bid, I had only one feeling that its fame was merited.
What difficulties did you meet with in the process of designing the national stadium?
Generally speaking, it went very smoothly. The only thing that could be called a "difficulty" may be that we had to make several attempts to find an interwoven steel structure like the "Bird's Nest." We got that perfect result after multiple rounds of research. And the other one is that we met with some difficulties while making the models for the proposal, because to the company that is in charge of making the model, it was very complex and no one had done it before.
How was the main design concept of the "Bird's Nest" decided?
The "Bird's Nest" is an artistic result of the original form of a stadium after going through rational analysis.
First, we want the stadium to be no different from the ancient Greek arena where the first Olympic Games were held. It is an arena with the main functions of holding competitions and watching competitions, so the field and the stands are the main components.
Second, the field at the feet of the stands is an ellipse that runs from north to south so we designed the east and west sides of the stands to be higher than the south and north sides, to accomodate the spectators' line of sight. We believe such a bowl-shaped stand will generate the most excitement within the stadium.
Third, we combine the rooftop and the walls of the lounge behind the stands as the cover of the stadium. The shape of the cover will be in accordance with the sides of the bowl, with lower tiers and higher tiers.
Fourth, we designed the interwoven steel structure to "hide" the track beams of the retraceable roof. That was the perfect answer for the framework as well as the appearance.
In order to reduce the cost of the project, we optimized the design by omitting the originally designed retraceable roof and enlarging the size of the rooftop opening, resulting in less steel usage.
Despite zigzags in the design process, the principal concepts remained unchanged. The Bird's Nest is still the Bird's Nest.
Can you imagine what the stadium will be like after completion?
People walking into the Olympic Green will see the gigantic silver "Bird's Nest". In the dusk the light will come through the lattice of the "Nest" and make the whole stadium a huge laminating container of passionate people. The backlit grids of the stadium will also become vivid and clear. The red color behind the bowl-shaped auditorium will create a splendid atmosphere of mystery,
and it will seem as if the whole stadium is about to fly into the sky. Walking through the sloped base of the construction, people will enter the assembly hall within the steel grid of the Nest, and it will be like a dynamic metropolitan space with spectators from all over the world strolling around and chatting with each other.
While sitting in the stadium, I hope all the spectators forget about the external shape of the stadium and enjoy the performances of the athletes. I hope that the crowds on the stands will be impressed by the performances of the players and cheer for them. The exciting atmosphere within the stadium will facilitate communication between athletes and audiences for an optimal Olympic environment.
What will be your personal expectation when the Beijing Games opens?
I would like to sit in the "Bird's Nest" as a common spectator, and feel the moment at which the 100-year-Olympic-dream of Chinese people is realized. I would like to enjoy the performances of athletes on the fields as well as the pleasure the sports bring to all of the world.
Source: China Daily