As Beijing prepares to host to approximately 10,500 athletes in 28 summer sports for the 2008 Olympic Games, the city's Olympic new look begins to unfold.
Of the 31 new and refurbished venues for the Olympics, the iconic "Bird's Nest" National Stadium and the "Water Cube" Aquatics Center are the landmark showpieces.
The main stadium for the Games, the National Stadium is located at Olympic Green, east of the city's north-south axis and to the north, covering an area of 258,000 square meters (63.8 acres).
Its twisting structure, which gives the 91,000-seat stadium its nickname, is made of 45,000 tons of steel. It will host the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field events and football finals.
The "Bird's Nest" has the world's most advanced screening and omni-directional systems and mobile seating. It will be used for large sports events, conventional competitions and non-competitive events, as well as provide wide-ranging entertainment and sporting facilities to residents after the Games.
The glittering National Aquatics Center is another highlight of Olympic Green. It covers an area of more than 65,000 square meters (16.1 acres) and boasts 17,000 seats. The center will be a venue for swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo games during the Olympics. After the games, the center will become a water recreation center for the public.
Together, the two structures are the heart of the 2008 Games layout and reflect the Chinese philosophy of harmonious balance. The steel stadium is circular and red hued. The water-covered swimming center is square and blue. Fire and water, masculine and feminine. An aerial photograph of the site reveals the two key Olympic venues forming a giant yin (symbol of femininity in ancient China) and yang (symbol of masculinity in ancient China) symbol.
The north-south city axis, which runs through the Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Drum and Bell towers, perfectly dissects the two modern landmarks, which are born from a mix of deep-rooted Chinese culture and free-flowing modern ideas.
Environmentally friendly technology and materials have been used to construct the new venues and 69 new energy "schemes" have been implemented, including the use of solar, geothermal, waste water, wind and other sources.
Of the 31 Beijing venues, 12 are new, 11 are older buildings being refurbished and eight are temporary structures. Except for the National Stadium due to be completed soon, all the venues have already been completed by the end of 2007. (end)