Cityscape recommendations for Beijing 2008-07-11 23:32:50   Print

    BEIJING, July 11 (Xinhua) -- If you are coming to Beijing for the Olympics, Xinhua News Agency staff offer these tips for finding the capital's most impressive spots.

    National Stadium

    Widely known as the "Bird's Nest" for its futuristic design, the National Stadium serves as the main venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and will host the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football finals and some Paralympics events.

    Situated east of the National Aquatics Center, or "Water Cube", in the Olympic Green, the huge Nest runs 333 meters north-south and 298 meters east-west. The 68-meter-high stadium can seat 91,000 people.

    The steel structure is designed in a grid formation, like a nest, with interlocking branches and twigs. The exterior is covered with double-layer transparent and semi-transparent membranes for lighting within the stadium while reducing glare and shadows, to create a more favorable competition environment.

    The bowl-shaped building does not have any poles or supports inthe middle, allowing for unobstructed views for spectators. The seats inside are set in an interlocking network to ensure a fixed distance of about 140 meters from any seat to the central field.

    Luxury boxes offer exceptional service and prime views. A wheelchair section can seat more than 200 attendees with disabilities.

    Co-designed by Pritzker Prize winners Herzong & de Meuron and Chinese architect Li Xinggang, the stadium was listed as one of the 100 most influential designs in Time magazine earlier this year.

    The facilities have their own attractions. In a 10,000 sq m restaurant with a window facade facing the field, visitors can enjoy a meal while watching events.

    A 40,000 sq m, two-story shopping center is also available. Also, a four-star hotel sits next to the center, and from its window restaurant visitors can get a clear view of the spectacular Nest.

    After the Olympics, the center will continue to be used for sports events, as well as an athletic and entertainment center for local residents.

    Visitors can get there by the Olympic Subway Line.

    National Aquatics Center, or "Water Cube"

    This is the major swimming venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is located in the Olympic Green, opposite to the National Stadium. In the Games, the center will host swimming, diving and water ballet events.

    The exterior resembles a huge cube surrounded by blue soap bubbles. Spectacular and unique, the building is a landmark in Beijing.

    Co-designed by Chinese and Australian architects, the Cube is supported by a steel frame and is the world's largest ETFE clad structure. ETFE, or ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, is a plastic that is resistant to corrosion and strong at many temperatures.

    It is said to weigh just 1 percent as much as glass while transmitting more light. The ETFE cladding on the Cube, which is less than 0.2 millimeters thick, allows sufficient light and heat penetration to save 30 percent of energy costs.

    The "hubble-bubble" structure is designed to save water and energy, as well as being environment-friendly. About 90 percent of the solar energy striking the surface will be retained to heat the pools and interior. The exterior can also trap water to top up the pools after several filtration processes.

    During the Games, the Cube will have a capacity of 17,000, but that will be reduced to 6,000 as it will become a water park. It covers 65,000 square meters.

    Visitors can get there by the Olympic Subway Line.

If you are coming to Beijing for the Olympics, Xinhua offers these tips for finding the capital's most impressive spots.

    The Great Hall of the People

    This is where Chinese people's thoughts are gathered and voiced. Many important issues are discussed here during the National People's Congress (NPC) session every year. It also stages various concerts and dramas.

    The grand structure lies to the west of Tian'anmen Square. It was one of the 10 major projects completed in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

    It covers 171,800 square meters -- 320 meters long by 206.5 meters wide. The central part of the hall is higher than the rest of the building, with the highest part rising to 40.5 meters.

    Its green and yellow glazed-tile roof, magnificent portico and colonnades, and rows of pines and cypresses create a look both solemn and immense.

    It is divided into three parts: in the north is the Banquet Hall that accommodates 5,000 people; in the center is the Grand Auditorium with a seating capacity of 10,000 and offices for the Standing Committee of the NPC are in the south.

    Visitors can get there by the Subway Line 1.

    The Place

    The Place literally means "Road to World Trade" in Chinese, and it's a new shopping complex in the Central Business District of Beijing.

    Two five-story, high-end shopping malls of Spanish architectural style stand opposite to each other. Covering the mall in between is the largest Sky Screen in Asia, 250 meters long and 30 meters wide, a close second to the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas.

    The huge overhead LCD screen was designed by Hollywood's Jeremy Railton and was the first to employ advanced LED technology. It certainly had a Hollywood price tag: 250 million yuan (35.7 million U.S. dollars).

    If it looks impressive during the day, come back at night and see shows about the ocean and outer space aired on the screen. The epic scenes and beautiful images flying overhead, combined with surround sound, provide the illusion of being deep beneath the sea or far away in space.

    Clusters of shops line both sides of the sky screen. For shoppers who enjoy trendy international brands, lifestyle shopping, relaxing eateries and entertainment, the Place is ... the place.

    Don't be afraid that you will over-indulge in the material world. There are also bookstores like Chaterhouse, where you will be so absorbed in peace that time and space are the last things on your mind.

    Restaurants and coffee shops are ideal places for a break. The Place has restaurants offering a range of cuisines at prices ranging from 50-100 yuan per person.

    Spas, beauty salons, food markets, gyms and children's play gardens are all there for you to explore.

    In the evening, the Place is an ideal location to sing, dance or relax at the end of a busy day. The Amber Club, CJW and Arena Club are among the hot spots where many foreigners gather. There you can paint the town red.

    The Place is convenient to transportation, being quite near the Yonganli Subway Station.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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