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Herzog & de Meuron's Chinese bird's nest swoop

Herzog & de Meuron has won the competition to design a new 100,000capacity Olympic Stadium in Beijing, the centrepiece of the 2008 games.

The Tate Modern designer saw off competition from two other shortlisted practices - the Beijing Architecture Design Institute and Japanese firm the AXS Company.

The project, which features a retractable roof engineered by Arup, will play host to the athletics events and will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies. The 67m-high stadium, at the heart of Beijing's 'Olympic Green', is set to become a new landmark in the Chinese capital. It is based on a 'bird's nest'concept, as Herzog & de Meuron aimed to get away from the 'usual technocratic stadiums'.

The external structure is designed to reflect the twigs in a nest, while the 'soft filler such as moss and earth' is represented in the winning scheme by 'inflated cushions'.

And internally, Jacques Herzog said, the practice has designed the stands to allow the spectators 'to become the architecture'.

'The regular proportions are intended to shift the spectators and the track and field events into the foreground, 'he said.

The scheme - for the Beijing Municipal Government - is Herzog & de Meuron's third stadium, after the St Jakob Park in Basel and Munich's Allianz Arena, and its first project in China.

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