Ice Ribbon ‘spinning glory’ of Beijing 2022



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Ice Ribbon the face of Beijing 2022 Image: Populous

Think of the new National Speed Skating Oval design in Beijing (China) akin to a spinning top. It’s just that this spinning top seats 12,000 Olympic fans and contains curved glass wrapping the façade.

The ‘Forbes’ stated that the only major new indoor venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, set for February 2022, the National Speed Skating Oval – dubbed the Ice Ribbon – designed by celebrated design practice Populous has turned into the face of the event, thanks largely to 22 glass tubes wrapping the venue.

The 6,800-capacity National Speed Skating Oval (The Ice Ribbon) is a speed skating arena which is the only new venue built on Beijing’s Olympic Green for the Winter Olympics. It will host the speed skating competitions at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The 2022 Winter Olympics, officially the XXIV Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as Beijing 2022, is an upcoming international winter multisport event scheduled to take place from February 4th to February 20th, 2022 in Beijing and venues near the neighboring towns of Yanqing and Chongli in China.

Observed Tiric Chang, Populous Principal, “The inspiration of the National Speed Skating Oval came from a distant childhood memory of a traditional winter game on ice. It is a typical ice game played by children with a spinning top with a whip that was used to spin it. The speed at which it rotated and the light that was glistening off it appeared like an escalating spiral, and it also simulates the speed skater’s movement on ice.”

The ‘Forbes’ further stated that the spinning top inspiration turned into the Ice Ribbon, with 22 glass tubes – made of multiple layers of curved glass. Embedded within the tubes, LED lights create an opportunity for differing lighting programs at night, which Chang believes will turn into a popular selfie spot for folks visiting the Ice Ribbon, located within the 2008 80,000-capacity Beijing Olympic Park near the famed Bird’s Nest (Beijing National Stadium) and the 6,000-capacity Water Cube (Beijing National Aquatics Center).

Using an exposed structure that rises 110 feet tall, Chang says they were able to create a delightful shape – “The façade is fully transparent so there is very good sight from inside. The venue is surrounded by a plaza and landscape that was deliberately designed to have different feelings during different seasons.”

Inside the competition hall, Populous worked with the Local Design Institute to create the largest indoor competition hall by volume in China. And it comes in white and silver. Using a ceiling that reflects the coldness back to the ice surface, the pure white ice rink and silver ceiling pair with the glass façade for a winter feel throughout.

Along with fan seating, Chang says the team focused on premium amenities. The venue includes two underground levels for venue servicing and parking.

Remarked Andrew James, Senior Principal and Director, Populous, “Populous’ successful design of National Speed Skating Oval (NSSO) presents a distinctive façade that celebrates the elegance, precision, pace, and dynamic of speed skating and facilitates an intense arena atmosphere. At night, the façade creates an exciting spectacle, with each of the strands becoming dynamic ribbons of light, able to change to an endless array of lighting programs.”

Having won the commission for the National Speed Skating Oval, beating out more than 65 candidates who applied, Chang calls designing the Ice Ribbon like a “trophy in sports architecture that we couldn’t miss winning”. The Populous commission brought together designers from offices across the world and required a tight timeline to get the building ready in time for the Olympics.

The result included a complete full schematic design in 12 weeks.

The designers worked in two parallel teams, one on the schematic design of the overall planning and the other on the building envelop of the oval.

Added Chang, “The most challenging part is we wanted to bring the best to the City and to offer multiple technical solution options for decision- making. The completion and finishes of the venue are flawless. It is a great pride and pleasure to be part of this very prestigious project.”

Missouri (US)-headquartered Populous is a global architectural and design practice specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers, as well as the planning and design of major special events. Populous was created through a management buyout in January 2009, becoming independently owned and operated.

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