Designed as a spectacular new landmark for Beijing, the National Speed Skating Oval (NSSO), or the 'Ice Ribbon', was the main venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics speed skating competition.
NSSO was designed within a tight 12-week timeframe by global architecture firm Populous after winning an international design competition in 2016.
The distinctive façade celebrates the precision, pace and drama of speed skating and takes its place in Beijing's iconic Olympic Park.
The 22 light strands (ribbons) flow up and around the Oval to a height of 33.8m. This ‘shell’ secures a high level of visitor comfort and amenity, in keeping with it being a 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, changing to an endless array of lighting programs.
A childhood memory of a traditional winter game in Beijing provided the inspiration for the conceptual design. Involving a high-speed spinning ice top that seemed to have infinite energy and possibilities helped reflect the characteristics of Olympic speed skating.
In addition to the beautiful appearance, the design process thoroughly considered the practical functions to meet the requirements on the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union.
The design also adds to the intense and exciting atmosphere where every movement and sound of the speed skating blades can be seen and heard by everyone in the oval.
Following the Games, the design’s legacy transforms the facility to serve its long-term purpose as a hub for the community, hosting Winter festivals, public ice skating, ice hockey or private ice-based shows and events.
This legacy design supports the Chinese Central Government’s Ice and Snow Sports Development Plan and is in line with the IOC’s philosophy to ensure a real ‘cost-benefit’ is associated with hosting the Games.