Water Cube Olympics

If you’re like me, the architecture and sheer grandiosity of Beijing 2008 Olympics is blowing your mind.  Gotta give props to what’s going on over there, seriously.  The precision, planning, and persistence of this machine is quite compelling.   With all the new and temporary structures now built, it’s hard to discuss everything — but you’ll find some interesting images and information below.  Notably, China might have raised the bar for future cities that are presented with the opportunity to host the Olympics.  China’s work isn’t done, I mean, pollution is unreal and the country is now the world’s largest CO2 emitter, but this article is an attempt to recognize positive efforts.  When future Olympic cities start to build up infrastructure, transportation, and venues, as they invariably will, this website thinks China has presented some new lessons in how to be bold, economic, and green. 

Beijing National Stadium - Bird's Nest

Home of both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, this stadium will also feature the track and field and soccer events.  With roughly 11,000 in temporary seating arrangements for the Olympics, it will have 80,000 permanent seats.  Dubbed the Bird’s Nest, the structure takes on the appearance of a nest as interwoven structural elements of the facade camouflage the structure underneath.  Beijing National Stadium was designed by a consortium of Herzog & de Meuron Architekten AG, Arup Sports, and China Architectural Design and Research Group.  The Bird’s Nest is supposed to gather roughly 70% of the water needed to run the facility.  Also, there’s a movie coming out about the building.  See more Bird’s Nest photos

Water Cube

Also known as Water Cube, the National Aquatics Center was designed to resemble a cube of water, or bubbles.  The bubbles are made of a transparent plastic called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (or ETFE) which is filled with air and attached to a steel frame surrounding the edge of the bubble.  The Water Cube is expected to be 30% more energy efficient than a standard building of similar size.  The building takes on different colors from LED lights, which are super efficient.  Water Cube was designed by Arup, PTW, and China State Construction and Engineering Corporations.  See more Water Cube photos

National Indoor Stadium

The National Indoor Stadium has photovoltaic generators installed under the roof and behind the curtain walls of the structure putting out as much as 100 kilowatts of electricity daily.  Attached to the walls and roof of the stadium, the PV system has over 1,100 solar battery components.  The $125 million stadium seats ~19,000 and was designed by Glöckner3 Architektur und Städtebau with Beijing Institute of Architectural Design to resemble an open Chinese fan. 

RMJM Convention Centre

This convention center was designed by RMJM to filter roughly 20,000 accredited journalists throughout the Olympics.  RMJM’s design includes systems that make use of natural elements along with very  efficient insulation throughout the building.  Additional green features include rain water collection on the roof for flushing systems and irrigation of the surrounding landscape, an ice storage cooling system, and a "free air cooling" ventilation system in the public foyers of the convention centre.


Expected to house over 16,000 athletes and officials during the Olympic Games, Beijing Olympic Village has a list of green elements, most of which relate to both energy and water efficiency.  With green tech such as solar heating, solar hot water, solar thermoelectric cogeneration, and intelligent controls, Olympic Village buildings consume about 1/30th of the energy consumed by conventional buildings.  Plus, 200 tons of water will be recycled every day and used in landscaping.  The 160-acre village has received LEED Gold certification, as well.  Read more on Olympic Village’s green features

Basketball Gymnasium

With a capacity for 18,000 spectators, the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium has an LED display system, rainwater recycling system, easy to clean glass and other technologies, and solar panels that provide some of the building’s energy.  Designed by Beijing Architecture Research Institute, the structure is wrapped in an aluminum-alloy cladding, which looks surprising similar to bamboo or some kind of natural wood.  At night, colorful LEDs bounce off the cladding and light up the structure.  Read more on Olympic Basketball Gymnasium

Olympic Green Tennis Center

Designed for natural ventilation, you may notice that the shape of this structure resembles a flower, or petals of a flower.  The stadium has 12 sections that look like 12 petals of a lotus flower.  The Olympic Green Tennis Center features a zero-discha rge sewage treatment system where 100% of sewage is treated through membrane biological reactors before being recycled for watering.  The structure is further equipped with a geothermal heat pump system through which ground sourced energy is absorbed for cooling and heating. 

Of general note, apparently ~90 percent of all the hot water used in the Olympic village will be solar heated.  Additionally, 80-90 percent of street lights around Olympic venues will be solar powered.  China is said to be the world’s biggest user of solar water heating.  China’s heavy emphasis on solar water heating has created tons of jobs and economic benefits for the country.