Gallery: BEIJING BIRDSNEST: New Pics of Herzog + deMeuron’s stadium


The 2008 Olympics have found China caught in the center of a heated nexus of political and social controversy, with human rights and of course the Tibet issue popping up to disturb Olympic revelers’ idealist visions for the celebration. While originally commissioned as a monument to Beijing’s might, Herzog and deMeuron’s stunning Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, (looking as spectacular as we imagined it), perhaps now better symbolizes the complex web of problems and paradox assailing modern China. Photographer Andy Ryan has recently released a eye-catchign set of photos depicting the structure silently weathering its storm-ridden cultural context. Divorced from scenes of social turmoil, these frames capture the architectural marvel’s complex and implacable beauty.

The Beijing Olympic Stadium (better known as the ‘Birdsnest’) is a carefully composed network of connections and features a very atypical structural framework – which functions as both structure and facade all in one. The building’s lofty green architectural aspirations are tempered by some of the malignant conditions of its construction (such as laborers dying in construction accidents). Whatever you think of the Herzog + deMeuron Beijing Birdsnest, it certainly is provocative, both as a piece of architecture, and a symbol of current social ills. We’d love to hear your thoughts….

+ Photos of ‘Beijing Birdsnest’ Olympic Stadium – courtesy of Andy Ryan

+ Beijing Birdsnest: Herzog & deMeuron’s Stunning Olympic Stadium


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  1. studioyves May 23, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Brilliant…Politics aside, you have to recognized the creative genius that shaped this particular project.
    All great architectural masterpieces have had undesirable geopolitical forces.
    Was the Roman coliseum not used to slaughter humans?
    My congratulations to the initial concept, perfectly executed through construction…most architects could only wish to have such a magnificent opportunity.
    yves rathle

  2. poo April 18, 2008 at 6:35 am

    im sure i saw that building in wolverhampton

  3. JOHN SHEN April 15, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    The bridnest stadium is combined with culture,nature,art,spririt……..
    lets look back to the Sydney operahouse , a great architecture was critisized for such a long time by buget,structure,etc

  4. April 15, 2008 at 7:16 am

    i was in Beijing last november, and was pleasantly surprised by the number of clear blue days.
    i understand the smog can get much worse in the summer, but it also frequently disperses completely due to changes in the (sometimes strong) winds from the north…

    as for the moral debate over the acceptability of working for a ‘repressive’ regime; the stadium, despite being commissioned and paid for by the government, is, essentially FOR the Chinese people, and they deserve great architecture as much as anyone else.

  5. glimps67 April 14, 2008 at 10:47 am

    It doesn’t look bad in that picture, but I saw one that showed one that called it the Smoglympics, and it showed how polluted Beijing is!

  6. Jac April 14, 2008 at 5:40 am

    to toan: Tibet was NEVER part of China. Tibetans were robbed of their country, culture, natural resources and freedom. Read your history books (that are not made in China).

  7. ssonicblue April 14, 2008 at 12:30 am

    So the photographer’s name is Andy Ryan? ANDY RYAN? As in, Ayn Rand? That’s absolutely perfect!!

  8. badconsumer April 12, 2008 at 6:50 pm


    You are right on. My comments were not so much meant as criticism as a cry for celebrating the indigenous and contextual. Interestingly, I too am in Toronto and every day I watch cartoons of 17th century southern Europe rise around me in 21st century Canada. It’s the same insecurity that is bred by those who do not feel equal or superior and struggle for symbols to fill the void. Then again, are buildings not meant to make us feel secure?

  9. David April 12, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Regarding \’BadConsumer\’s\’ comments:

    While I am no historian, and certainly no deep knowledge of Russian society, it seems that the comment of Beijing and St. Petersburg is also true … to some extent … of so many European cities – copying the Greco-Roman ideals in their architecture. So many or \’our\’ 20th century bank buildings, for instance, are a display of a previous generations \’bling\’. And we\’ve had our share of community razings (I\’m in Toronto, Canada).

    To the extent that Russia\’s recent monetary elite are displaying their new wealth (and China, as well), it seems to me they are seeking to establish themselves as equals … which as people, they are.

    If we want them to do differently/better, we should be setting different/better examples.


  10. toan April 12, 2008 at 10:44 am

    such an amazing stadium, probably among the best in the world.
    @Jac: Tibet was, is and will be part of China.

  11. badconsumer April 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I visited the site during construction last August. I have to say the building sitting in a huge flattened dustbowl that once was a large community brought out so many conflicting feelings.
    The building is indeed inspired and beautiful. However, the human cost is hard to fathom. Whether you consider the conditions in labour camp building it or the thousands of displaced homes. As a privileged North American, it’s impossible to describe the magnitude of what was happening at this site, let alone around Beijing.
    I think history will judge this period in China the same way it judges Russia in the time of Peter The Great. He tried to drag rural peasant Russia to the forefront by adopting the aesthetics of Europe and sacrificing human life to build St. Petersburg.
    Similarly, while some amazing architecture is to be found in both cities, St. Petersburg and Beijing are both examples of garishness that comes about when the culturally insecure try to show their place in the world.
    Centuries later, Russia still struggles to develop in terms of human and social rights and the garish ‘bling factor’ can be seen all over the homes of Russia’s new robber barons. Hopefully China’s current grandiosity will not set it back in the same ways.

  12. King Kong April 11, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Hmmmm….How many people lost their homes so the Chinese could build this?

  13. massimiliano April 11, 2008 at 10:53 am

    “lots of spaghetti pasta has fallen from the sky upon a basic stadium”
    One more time we have to see the ugly difference btw beautiful renderings and the sad reality.
    The shell ( lot of pasta)is a surplus, only a vain way to cover a grey stadium.

  14. Jac April 10, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    i think it looks ugly…i feel a little caged up just looking at it. I like the “egg” though, it’s very clean and definitely more appealing.

    That said, it’s time modern, civilised, prosperous China leave Tibet as Tibet.

  15. silenthunter April 10, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Yes indeed a beautiful structure – such a shame they did it for such a repressive regime.

    Still I suppose money speaks louder than conscience.

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