National Speed Skating Oval
Populous was selected to design the prestigious National Speed Skating Oval (NSSO) in Beijing, following a rigorous worldwide design competition. It is the city’s only permanent new venue for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. This win consolidated and recognised Populous’ unparalleled Olympic experience, and sees the firm involved in their 12th Olympic Games, both summer and winter. This history, coupled with Populous’ globally recognised innovation in sports facility design, has set the stage for a most effective and inspiring state of the art speed skating venue for Beijing’s Winter Olympic Games.
CHALLENGE: Our role in the competition process involved the management of a multitude of stakeholders across five countries and three offices to complete the full schematic design for the NSSO in just 12 weeks. The façade was forged through several concepts and many iterations to reflect the inspiring nature of speed skating.
66 firms took part in the competition including a large number of international firms.
INNOVATION: Populous’ successful design ‘The Ice Ribbon’ presents a distinctive façade that celebrates the elegance, precision, pace and drama of speed skating. The design facilitates an intense arena atmosphere, where every move and every sound from skates on ice will be seen and heard by all at the Oval. The venue’s architectural and place-making credentials are appropriate to the architectural iconography of Olympic Park and is an inspiring and enduring drawcard for China and international visitors alike.
Twenty-two separate light strands (or ribbons) flow up and around the Oval, cocooning it to a height of some 31.6 metres. This ‘shell’ secures a high level of visitor comfort and amenity, in keeping with it being the world leading speed skating venue for competitors and spectators. At night, the facade creates an exciting spectacle, with each of the strands becoming dynamic ribbons of light, able to change to an endless array of lighting programs.
The site is approximately 17 hectares and will include a 400m racing track with an artificial ice surface to world’s best standard. It will accommodate 12,000 spectators (6800 permanent and 5200 temporary seats) positioned close to the action. There will also be two additional underground levels for venue servicing and parking.
IMPACT: In the lead up to, and during the Games, the NSSO will be the home of training for speed skating events and Olympic competition. Following the Games, the design’s legacy allows the transformation of the facility to serve its long-term purpose as a real hub for the community, catering for public skating and ice sports as well as speed skating, supporting China’s ongoing involvement and excellence in winter sports.