Olympic Stadium offers a tantalising blend of Swiss craftsmanship and Chinese ingenuity The Olympic Stadium resembles a bird's nest with a latticed design enclosing the whole stadium within curved steel-net walls. It was expected to be the pride of a nation upon completion, but is already capturing the imagination of the world. Conceived as a large, collective vessel, and sitting on a gentle rise at the centre of the Olympic complex, the stadium's design was a joint venture of Swiss craftsmanship and Chinese ingenuity. It was the work of Switzerland's Herzog & de Meuron Architekten AG and the China Design and Architecture Institute, which beat two other short-listed entries for the conceptual design. Work on the stadium began late last year and is expected to be completed by 2007. Its designers boast that every part of the stadium would be functional. Engineers and architects believe it combines modern design with the spirit of traditional Chinese architecture. The stadium is located in the south of Olympic Green and will cover an area of 145,000 square metres. It will be able to accommodate 80,000 permanent seats with the capability for an additional 20,000 seats. The stadium also meets all the functional and technical requirements for an Olympic stadium - but there is more to it than meets the eye. Spectators can actually walk through the central formation of the structure around the stands and just enjoy the view of the entire stadium, including the stairs leading up to the three stands. The stadium lobby will function as a lobby or shopping mall, where restaurants and shops will be located. The stadium will be a gigantic bird's nest in more ways than one as the exterior will have inflated cushions acting as a filler - just as birds fill spaces in their nests between woven twigs. The cushions will help make the roof completely weatherproof, while helping the structure become windproof, too. However, the stadium received a blow when it was announced that plans for a retractable roof would have to be scrapped despite original tender documents describing the design element as compulsory. According to the report, the stadium would have to be redesigned and that it would be another month or two before plans are drawn up and approved. Reports indicate that specialists were researching the impact of having an open-air stadium and that the original plan for a retractable roof had 'exceeded the budget' approved by the Beijing Development and Reform Commission with mainland media estimating costs of a retractable roof at 300 million yuan. Abandoning the retractable roof would help organisers save millions of yuan, while cutting back on the amount of steel by at least 10,000 tonnes. Retractable roof or not, the overall appearance of the stadium would not be affected, according to experts. And even if plans for a retractable roof are abandoned, the stadium will still have five environmentally friendly features. This includes a state-of-the-art energy-saving design that will help reduce consumption for artificial ventilation and lighting. Terrestrial heat will help reduce energy costs and a highly efficient air-conditioning system will also be used. Solar energy will be harnessed for lighting in outdoor areas in the stadium, while only environmentally friendly materials will be used to meet national technological specifications and requirements laid down by the Environment Guideline for Olympic Construction. The National Swimming Centre, which is just a few minutes' walk from the main stadium, has also inspired thousands of Beijing residents with its dramatic design. The swimming centre, which is known as the 'Water Cube', is one of the most exciting venues to feature sports events. Last year, the consortium of Arup, architecture firm PTW, the CSCEC (China State Construction and Engineering Corporation) and the CSCEC Shenzhen Design Institute beat strong international entries to win the design competition. Architects based their design on the natural formation of soap bubbles to give the centre an organic appearance. Costing 800 million yuan, the centre will have five pools, including one with a wave machine and rides that are six times the size of an Olympic pool. The building will use solar energy to heat the pools and the interior area, and all backwash water will be filtered and returned to the swimming pools. Construction began last December and is expected to be completed by 2006. Upon completion, the centre will be able to accommodate 11,000 spectators. The cycling velodrome in Laoshan will also be an engineering wonder once completed. Resembling a cyclist's helmet from a height, the structure is another state-of-the-art design venue that has engineers and architects buzzing in Beijing. The Laoshan Velodrome is located in the eastern part of the capital in the Shi Jing Shan district, 23 kilometres from the Olympic Village. The roof will resemble the spokes of a wheel and from the centre of the hub, steel cable spokes will lead to the outside rim and translucent roof cover, making it one of the most unusual designs in world cycling. The Olympic cycle track will be of international standard with a 250 metre circumference. It will be constructed from fast wood, allowing for quick times for cyclists. The track will have a depressed infield for optimal view for all spectators and participants. Around 6,000 spectators will be able to watch the action from the velodrome, while the Beijing Shooting Range promises to be just as spectacular with accommodation for 8,500 spectators. The shooting range, located in the western community area of Beijing 19km from the Olympic Village, will have two new competition halls - one for the Olympic qualifying and another for the finals. After the Olympics in 2008, the venue will still be used for national and international competitions, while becoming the training base of the Chinese national team. Apart from the Beijing Shooting Range and the Laoshan Cycling Velodrome, the State General Adminstration of Sport (SGAS) will also build a total of 33 training venues and renovate six old ones, including the Capital Gymnasium and Olympic Stadium at a cost of 3.8 million yuan. Of the 19 competition venues to be built for the Games, the SGAS will be in charge of the Beijing Shooting Range and Laoshan Velodrome, while the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympics (Bocog) will undertake the rest of the construction. The Cube The wall cavity is 3.6m wide and the roof cavity is 7.2m deep. The structure is made of approximately 6,500 tons of steel. There are 22,000 steel members and 12,000 nodes. The steel beams stretch for 90km. The structure of the building is so strong it can be stood up on its end and still retain its shape The cube is 971,199 cu metres (177m x177m x31m).