Dezeen’s Guide to the Architecture of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics set to begin on February 4, Dezeen brings together the most architecturally significant venues, including a new Populous Stadium and the world’s first permanent structure for extreme snow jumping in big air.


The majority of venues for the upcoming Winter Games are not new, with some having been built for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, the city becoming the first to host both editions of the 16-day competition.

The most famous of these is the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, which was designed by Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron.

This stadium reuse system follows the precedent set by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and has been touted by the Organizing Committee as a more sustainable approach.

However, some notable new structures will also be on display as the Olympic cauldron ignites again in China.


Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron (2007)

Better known as the Bird’s Nest, this Herzog & de Meuron-designed stadium is easily recognizable as the main venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympics thanks to its steel latticework envelope.

No sporting competition will take place here next month, but the 80,000-seat stadium, for which renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was a design consultant, will resume its role as host of the opening and closing ceremonies of the upcoming games. of winter.


Winter Olympics Aquatics Center

Beijing National Aquatic Center by PTW Architects (2007)

Designed by a consortium including Australian studio PTW Architects and dubbed the Water Cube, the National Aquatics Center is another 2008 Olympic venue repurposed for the Winter Olympics.

Organizers say it has been transformed into an Ice Cube with the addition of ice-making equipment and air conditioning. Rather than hosting swimming and diving, this time it will serve as a curling rink.


Beijing National Speed ​​Skating Ring

National Speed ​​Skating Oval by Populous (2021)

Designed by stadium architecture studio Populous, the National Speed ​​Skating Oval is the only new venue built in the Beijing Olympic Park for the 2022 Winter Games, having been built on the site of the grounds hockey and archery used in 2008.

It has been dubbed the Ribbon of Ice in reference to the 22 luminous strands surrounding the stadium, with Populous promising that the 12,000 spectators will hear “all the sounds of ice skating” around the 400m running track.


Photo by Arne Müseler/CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Beijing National Indoor Stadium by Glöckner Architekten GmbH (2007)

Another venue inherited from 2008 with a playful moniker – in this case The Fan, after its resemblance to a traditional Chinese folding fan – the National Indoor Stadium will swap rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and handball for ice hockey at Beijing 2022.

The 20,000-seat arena was designed by German company Glöckner Architekten GmbH.


Photo is by N509FZ/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Wukesong Sports Center by David Manica and Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (2008)

Wukesong Sports Center, officially known as Cadillac Center, hosted the 2008 Summer Games basketball tournament and has since become one of Beijing’s premier multi-purpose arenas.

It will share responsibility for hosting ice hockey at the next Olympics with the National Indoor Stadium, using an ice rink that can be converted back to a basketball court in less than six hours that was installed in 2015 as part of a renovation worked on by Populous.

Ribbons of perforated gold aluminum wrap around the building, designed by David Manica when he worked for HOK Sport – now Populous – in association with the Institute of Architectural Design in Beijing.


Big Air Shougang by TeamMinus (2019)

Perhaps the most eye-catching structure to appear on this list, Big Air Shougang is one of a handful of new venues being built for Beijing 2022, where it will host the “big air” ski and snowboard extreme jumping events. According to the organizers of the Games, it is the first permanent aerial structure in the world.

The venue was designed by TeamMinus, a studio headed by Professor Zhang Li, who also heads Tsinghua University’s Institute of Architectural Design and Research.

Clad in colorful perforated aluminum panels, it was built on the site of one of Beijing’s largest former steelworks, with the plant’s four industrial cooling towers still standing watch.


Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing

Capital Indoor Stadium by Ming Xiong (1968)

Built in 1968, Capital Indoor Stadium hosted table tennis matches in 1971 as part of the Ping Pong Diplomacy Program credited with thawing U.S.-China relations during the Cold War.

The arena was renovated ahead of the 2008 Olympics, where it hosted the volleyball tournament, and will host the figure skating and short track speed skating competitions as the athletes return to Beijing next month.


Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

National Center for Snowboarding by Atelier Li Xinggang (2021)

The 1,975-meter-long sliding track, located in the Yanqing Winter Olympic Zone 75 kilometers north of Beijing, features a wooden tiled roof along its entire length and will host the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge at the February Games.

The first sliding center in China and only the third to be built in Asia, it was designed by the studio of architect Li Xinggang within the China Architecture Design & Research Group, which also designed the Yangqing Olympic Village and the national alpine ski center.


Snow Ruyi in Beijing 2022

National Ski Jumping Center by TeamMinus (2020)

Another new venue for Beijing 2022 designed by TeamMinus, the National Ski Jumping Center has been nicknamed Snow Ruyi due to its resemblance to a ruyi, a traditional Chinese scepter talisman associated with power and good fortune.

At the top of the slope is a circular observation deck 40 meters high containing a panoramic restaurant, with a judges’ tower halfway up and a stadium below.

The center will host the ski jumping and Nordic combined events at this year’s Winter Olympics, before becoming a training center for Chinese athletes and a tourist resort. It is located in the Zhangjiakou Games Zone, a popular ski destination 180 kilometers northwest of Beijing, to which visitors will be transported via a newly constructed intercity railway.

Images courtesy of Beijing 2022, except where noted. The top image shows the National Alpine Ski Centre.

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