onsdag 9. februar 2022

Is that a nuclear plant? The story behind those towers at the Winter Olympics big air

Winter Olympians are accustomed to performing their awe-inspiring feats against the backdrop of spectacular snow-capped mountains. But Beijing's Big Air Shougang Olympic venue is drawing attention for its much edgier, urban setting.

Behind the skiers launching themselves off the 60-meter-high (196-foot) ramp are furnaces, tall chimney stacks and cooling towers on the site of a former steel mill that for decades contributed to the Chinese capital's notoriously polluted skies.

The mill, founded in 1919, ceased operations more than 15 years ago, as part of efforts to clear the air in the capital ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics. That left a large stretch of prime city center land, ripe for rehabilitation and regeneration, says engineering and design company ARUP, which transformed the site into a bustling hub for tourism and art exhibitions, in 2013 it even played host to an electronic music festival.