Friday, August 26, 2016

Beijing's Architectural Wonders

The city of Beijing is not just all about the historical sights to wander but also about modern and spectacular architectural wonders that has been part of its modernity as a city. The Egg, Water Cube and the famed Bird’s Nest became the popular names of these city's structures because of its spectacular architecture where it is likened. Visiting and getting a close encounter of these structures made me truly marvel to these works of architecture in Beijing.

Bird's Nest - Beijing's Architectural Wonders
The Egg
The building is National Center for Performing Arts that takes a very familiar form - an egg. The building is half oval in shape that seems its half is submerge in water since it is surrounded by an artificial lake. It is also important to inform or shall I shall an innovative way to know that the entrance to the building is through the underground artificial lake! From afar the building also looks like an alien spaceship that crash landed from a Hollywood movie scene because of its sharp contrast of its surrounding which were greenery of trees and houses.

The Egg or The Spaceship?
I can see the other half of the egg!
Designed by French architect Paul Andrew, the main building contains 3 performing venues - Opera House, Concert Hall and Theater. It covers an area of about 118,900 sq meters and the total area of the building is about 217,500 sq km. Symphonies, ballet, dance shows, dramas, operas and other kinds of performances are frequently staged here. It's sharp contrast to its surroundings with its oval exterior makes it very eye-catching and fondly called it, "The Egg."

Beautiful glow by sundown.
National Center for Performing Arts at night.
The surrounding facade of the park is free from any entrance fees. The park is very popular to local and foreign visitors because it is used mainly for jogging and strolling activities. It is also best spend an afternoon bonding or rest around the parks facades complete grass parks, flowering plants and trees. But entering the premises of the building will cost you CNY30 to CNY40 per person. Opera festival and musical performances has different fees. I'm just quite disappointed on my visit because The Egg is not fully lit up with lights just like what I saw in travel magazines I've read about it. But seeing it in front of me was quite an experience to remember.

Bird's Nest 
There were 43 new world records and 132 new Olympic records set at the 2008 Summer Olympics. And some of them happened in Bird's Nest or the National Stadium - the central venue of 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is situated in Olympic Green Village in Chaoyang District of Beijing. All of the atletics events of the 2008 Olympics were held here like track and field, football and discus throw. 

Bird's Nest on a cold afternoon visit.
Where world records were made and broken to surpass... The Bird's Nest.
The design of the building is so popular because it looks like a nest of a bird especially if viewed from above! The stadium took 5 years to be completed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and Chinese architect L Xinggang. The designers did not do any redundant disposals to the look of the stadium but just exposed the steel st'ructures entirely to make it look like in its most natural appearance. The cost of the stadium is said to be 33 million dollars.

The National Stadium is the main host of opening and closing ceremonies of 2008 Beijing Olympics.
I admire it in photos and in television, now my foot has set in Bird's Nest.
It was like a dream come true for me to see the Bird's Nest in my naked eye since I've been following the Beijing Olympics 4 years ago before my visit. Actually the stadium is also one of the reasons why I travel to China. I want to see the grandiose structure of Bird's Nest, face to face! And it was truly a marvelous work of architecture from Beijing. It was a massive building! How it was built like that was truly a work of wonder. And when it glows in fiery red at night, it made stunned to its architectural beauty. Bird's Nest is a must visit when in Beijing! 

2008 Beijing Olympics was memorable because of this architectural wonder.
Beijing 2008 Olympic marker.
After the games, the stadium became a popular tourist attraction of the city. Today it has the largest ski resort in urban Beijing now. There is no entrance around the stadium but entering the premises cost CNY50 per person. You can also visit the 2008 Beijing Olympics landmark beside it.

Water Cube
It also known as the National Aquatics Center but dubbed as "Water Cube" because of its exterior design that looks like water bubbles compressed together. It is located in the Olympic Park to the west of the National Stadium (Bird's Nest). The Water Cube is said to be constructed in 2003 and finished in early 2008 to be the host facility of swimming, diving and synchronized swimmings competition of 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Designed by Chinese and Australian, it is the first building in the world built upon "the soap bubble" theory, and sports a polyhedral steel-framed structure. The ETFE (the ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer) membrane insulates it. This advanced membrane structure is formed by 3,065 bubble-like pneumatic cushions of all sizes. It becomes the first large-scale public project coated with the membrane, and it also has set up a new world record for its massive deployment.

National Aquatics Center.
After the Olympic games, it was turned into various leisure and business-related function like The Watercube Waterpark, spa, bars and restaurants and other business sections. In 2022, it will be the venue of curling competitions during the Winter Olympic Games.

A closer look at the "soap bubbles" of Water Cube.
Beijing's architectural wonders at Olympic Park.
With all these architectural wonders of Beijing, it only shows that this city is unstoppable towards inventive ways of blending tradition with modernity. It proves its worthy in the center stage of one of the progressive cities in the world. And it truly it is! I couldn't agree more to its stature as one of the most wonderful cities in the world. These modern and marvelous architectures of Beijing calls the world to center its attention - to itself in the east, once more.

*How to reach National Center for Performing Arts (The Egg)
Via subway, take Subway Line 1, get off at Tiananmen West Station and get out of the station from Exit C (southwest exit). There is an underground passageway to the building directly.

*How to reach Olympic Park
Bird's Nest and Water Cube is inside the Olympic Park. Via subway, take Subway Line 10 then to Beitucheng then switch to Subway Line 8 (Olympic special line). Get off at Olympic Sports Center Station then get out of the station on Exit B1 (northwest exit) or Exit B2 (northeast exit) and walk to the park.  

Beijing's Architectural Wonders is part of my Beguiling Beijing.Captivating China series where I share my birthday trip adventures, travel stories and first-time experiences in Beijing, China last March 20-24, 2012. You might also like the other parts of the series:  
+Forbidden City: Forbidden No More
+Beijing's Architectural Wonders
+The Imperial Gardens of Beijing 

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