Olympic Venue Designers Compare to Archieve Highest Ideals
Beijing Shooting Range Hall
Located at the foot of Xishan or the Western Hills, Shijingshan District, the Beijing Shooting Range Hall is the shape of a taut bow, with a glass wall, grey wall boards and wood-coloured indoor decorations. This is the place where all the shooting events will take place.
With a floor space of 45,645 square metres and a seating capacity of 9,000, the Beijing Shooting Range Hall will host the qualifying rounds and finals of 11 shooting events at the 2008 Olympics Games, including all the 10-, 25- and 50-metre events. All shooting events for the 2008 Summer Paralympics will also be held at this venue. Construction of the range began on July 13, 2004, and will be completed no later than May 2007.
“We set the style of the shooting hall's overall design as the origin of the sport: hunting in the forest. The style of exterior construction and interior decoration are unified, simple and natural,” says Zhuang Weimin, the venue’s chief designer and dean of the Architecture Design Institute at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing.
An air corridor connects two shooting ranges, one for the qualifying rounds covering 27,000 metres and the other for the finals with a floor space of 16,000 square metres.
Fair-faced—an artificial “rock” concrete, which can be shaped in a mould at will—is used for the exterior walls without further processing. The original colour of the concrete, the wood-look louvers on the exterior wall and the bow-shape of the whole hall all reflect the forest/hunting theme. The interior decoration adopts the same style, with the original colour of fair-faced concrete, log doors and ceilings with wood-looking stripes.
In Zhuang’s opinion, the design should save energy, be environmentally friendly and take account of the venue’s use after the Games when the national shooting team will train here. There will also be international and national shooting events.
One highlight of the energy-saving technology used in the construction of the shooting hall is the adoption of a double-layer glass-curtain wall. “This is the first time in China that this kind of eco-respiratory double-layer wall is being used,” says Shen Min, deputy chief engineer of The Third Construction Company of the China Second Construction Engineering Bureau. “With intakes on both ends, the wall can exchange cold or hot wind with indoor air and adjust indoor temperature, thus decreasing the consumption of energy by air conditioners.”
In previous Olympic Games, there was no special seating area for coaches in the shooting events. They had to sit in the audience away from the athletes out of safety concerns. The designers have widened the competition area to allow coaches to join the athletes for the first time in Olympic history.
When former US President George Bush rode for 75 minutes on November 20, 2005, in the Laoshan All-Terrain Bicycle Velodrome, he expressed his desire to return and ride in the new Laoshan Velodrome, one of 12 new Olympic venues.
At the time Bush rode around the old 1990 Asian Games venue, the new Laoshan Velodrome construction site bore mere scaffolding and building materials. But now, on the path where Bush once rode, a complete velodrome has emerged with a silver round roof, resembling a UFO landing at the foot of the Western Hills.
Located in Shijingshan District, the Laoshan Velodrome will host track-cycling competitions during the 2008 Olympic Games. It has a seating capacity of 6,000, a 250-metre oval-shaped track, and a total surface area of 32,920 square metres. The design of its circular roof is based on the front wheel of a racing bicycle. A 300-metre-long “backbone” service building unites the existing cycling and fencing administration and the new Olympic velodrome. It also connects Bajiao Park in the south with the newly introduced Olympic railway station and a three-level parking garage for 5,000 bicycles in the north. Spectators may enter the hall directly at the spectator level via the garden roof of the “backbone.”
The big forecourt of the velodrome, where people will meet and socialize during the Olympic Games, is surrounded by a fountain and lawns. A 600-metre long wooden bench reflects the shape of the surrounding hills in the south and east.
According to Wang Shenghui, an official with the China Xinxing Construction & Development General Corporation, general contractor of the project, the velodrome will become China’s first indoor track cycling venue to meet international standards.
The 250-metre wooden cycle track, one of the key components in track cycling, was designed by Schuermann Architects, a German company that designed venues including the ADT Events Center in Carson, California, and the International Cycling Union Cycling Center in Aigle, Switzerland. “The company is very experienced at designing cycling tracks for international events, which will allow faster and better performances by the athletes,” said national cycling team coach Wu Shucheng. The track also has a sunken infield creating an optimal view for all spectators and participants.
The Laoshan Velodrome has a 133-metre steel roof, the largest in China. Under the guidance of Feng Jianzhong, deputy director-general of the General Administration of Sports of China, 49 plans were considered for constructing the roof before the quickest and most economical was chosen.
“The completion of the roof is the pride of every constructor of the velodrome,” said Chen Pingquan, velodrome chief engineer and also a senior engineer at Beijing Pake International Engineering Consulting Corporation.
“Due to the two systems it employs, the huge roof is windproof, rainproof, heat-preserving, heat-insulating, sound absorbent, sound insulating, aerated and light-converging. The central roof can provide adequate daylight for the athletes' daily training. The electronic window can let smoke out in emergencies and ventilate to ensure fresh air in the velodrome.”
After the Games, the Laoshan Velodrome will be used for international and national cycling competitions and training. The seating capacity may be reduced to 3,500. “Coaches and athletes of the national cycling team are very pleased with the velodrome,” said Bian Xilai from the General Administration of Sports of China.
The Laoshan Velodrome will also be a spot where neighbourhood residents can cycle. In the country with the most bicycles in the world, the bicycle is still used as a means of transportation, not for exercise or fun, but that might change with the 2008 Olympics and the completion of the velodrome, providing a place and opportunities for people to enjoy the sport.
Olympic Forest Park Tennis Centre
About two kilometres north of the Watercube (National Aquatics Centre) and the Bird’s Nest (National Stadium) sits Beijing’s biggest city park: the Olympic Forest Park, divided south-north by the North Fifth Ring Road. The Olympic Park Tennis Centre, venue of the preliminaries and the finals of men's and women's tennis, is located in the southwest section of the Olympic Forest Park.
Covering an area of 166,800 square metres, the tennis centre has a total floor space of 26,514 metres including 10 competition courts, six training courts and a seating capacity of 17,400. The concepts of “Green Olympics, High-Tech Olympics and People's Olympics” are embodied in the project. The Paralympics wheelchair tennis competitions will also be held here.
A park provides the perfect backdrop for the 16-court centre. “The location determines that our design should combine the sports centre with a forest, and let people play tennis in the forest,” said Zheng Fang, chief designer of the Olympic Forest Park Tennis Centre and general architect of China Construction Design International (Shenzhen) Design Consultant Corporation.
“Our principle is to create a highly open tennis centre with the background of the natural forest.” Zheng says the “forest view” of the Olympic Park will “penetrate” into the 16 tennis courts of the venue, unifying the forest and facilities as one.
As deputy general manager of Beijing State-owned Assets Management Corporation, the owner of the tennis centre, Sun Yanzhao explains the design's ingenuity in detail: The designers have taken advantage of the incline in the park's landscape to build a centre on a mild west–east slope. Spectator seats on the higher slope will enjoy a better view of the courts. As a permanent sports venue, the centre coordinates perfectly with its surroundings.
The concrete work has already been completed, as have the No. 1 and No. 2 courts. The centre court’s canopy is still under construction. The three main courts all have the shape of an equilateral dodecagon, with each side as auditoria. The exterior off-white fair-faced concrete walls are designed to appear like three blooming snow lotus flowers.
“We cooperated with Bligh Voller Nield from Australia and Building Design Partnership from England to make the plans, and the International Tennis Federation said it is 'highly professional’ in April 2006,” said Zheng.
To the south of the Olympic Forest Park Tennis Centre are two temporary Olympic venues: a fencing hall and a hockey field. “The tennis centre was originally planned as a temporary venue, too, but this was changed; it will be built as a permanent venue. This centre will hold national and international tennis events and serve as a sports centre for Beijing’s tennis lovers after the Games,” said Sun.
The design and construction of the venue takes into account the characteristics of tennis events. The high auditoria will help spectators watch the games more closely and clearly. The compressed public space avoids the hollowness of many sports venues and improves on the atmosphere while events take place. As spectators normally will stay in the tennis centre for several hours, ample rest areas are prepared and complete service facilities are provided. Natural ventilation is adopted in the tennis courts for the first time in the world, lowering ground temperatures by about five degrees Celsius in summer.
Tennis is developing rapidly in China. Since Li Ting and Sun Tiantian won the gold medal at the Athens Olympic Games and Zheng Jie and Yan Zi won two Master Series championship events in 2006, there have been higher expectations for better performance by Chinese players in 2008. But it seems fair to observe that the sport has not yet taken off in China. “The construction of this tennis centre with international standards ensures the training of national athletes in a professional environment and builds a platform to promote tennis culture among ordinary people,” said Zheng.
Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park
Located in Beixiaoying Village, Shunyi District, the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park is the only Olympic venue in rural Beijing. However, using the newly built Baima Lu connecting Jingshun Lu and the venue, it is only a short drive from the Olympic Village near the North Fourth Ring Road. With a total area of 1.63 million square metres and a floor space of 32,000 square metres, the park is one of the largest Olympic venues in Beijing, 227 times larger than a football court. “It takes more than an hour to drive around the park,” said Zhang Lei, general manager of the Shunyi Management Committee of Olympic Venue, the owner of the park.
At the 2008 Olympics, athletes will be competing for 32 gold medals in this park, one-tenth of the total tally, the third-largest haul after the National Stadium and National Aquatics Centre. After the Games, Shunyi District will convert the park and its neighbouring 15 million-square-metre area into a large and well-equipped water park for public use.
The Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park will be used to hold rowing, canoe/kayak (flat-water racing and slalom-racing) events in 2008. It is also the first aquatic sports centre worldwide which can hold both flat-water racing and slalom-racing events in one venue. The venue is divided into a slalom section in the southwest and a flat-water section in the east. Water storage has been completed for the park, with 1.7 million cubic metres of water in an area of more than 600,000 square metres.
The 3.5-metre-deep flat-water section includes competitive and warm-up courses. Finishing lines are at the north end, with timing houses. Lighthouses resembling Chinese-style palace lanterns and bow-shaped main auditoria are located near the starting line in the south. Temporary auditoria will be added to one side of the competition course during the Games.
Irregular bend courses in the eight-metre deep slalom section are constructed in accordance with the standards and demands of the International Rowing Federation. The boathouse sits beside the 280-metre competition bend course. “We designed its roof in the shape of a rolling wave,” said designer Li Dan, who is chief architect of Beijing Tianhong Yuanfang Architecture and Design Corporation.
According to the Beijing 2008 Project Construction Headquarters Office, the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park Project completely meets “Green Olympics” standards. In the third quarter assessment organized by the office and Beijing Municipal Construction Committee, the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park was cited as an “Excellent Construction Site for the Green Olympics.”
According to the plan, the afforestation rate of the park should be 83 percent. The biggest challenge was that the dusty land did not suit growing plants. “We solved the problem by pumping out all the useless sand and soil and by keeping the useful soil,” said Zhang. “The waste dirt was then processed and piled up into a small hill for the slalom section, without causing any environmental pollution.”
“Now, more than 5,000 trees have been transplanted in the park and they are growing well.”