But the Big Air Shougang Olympic venue in Beijing is attracting attention for its much edgier, urban setting.
Behind the skiers launching themselves from the 60-meter (196-foot) slope are furnaces, tall chimneys and cooling towers on the site of a former steel mill that contributed to the Chinese capital’s notoriously polluted air for decades.
Established in 1919, the mill ceased operation more than 15 years ago, as part of efforts to clean the air in the capital ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Instead, the old mill has been incorporated into Big Air Shougang’s design. One of the cooling towers even bears the Games logo.
Some Twitter users wondered if it might have been a nuclear power plant.
TeamMinus outlined the inspiration behind the design on its website, citing the influence of Chinese flying apsaras, celestial beings found in both Buddhist and Hindu cultures.
The Beijing government calls the site a “Green and Eco Demonstration Area,” according to ARUP, which can be scaled up in other parts of the country.
While the regeneration project is a good example of reusing aging infrastructure, closing the plant wasn’t necessarily a “green” decision, as operations — and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with steel production — were effectively relocated to another location. part of the country.
According to ARUP, in 2005 the entire production site, owned and operated by the state steel company Shougang Group, was moved to Caofeidian, in neighboring Hebei province.
The decision to relocate the plant was part of the Beijing government’s economic restructuring and pollution control initiatives.
Beijing’s organizing committee did not respond to DailyExpertNews’s request for comment about whether it knew the ski center was being built in the former core area of the nature reserve. But in a response to DailyExpertNews, the IOC said the development of the Yanqing zone “turns the region — a rural suburb of Beijing — into a major four-season tourist destination, improving lives and boosting the local economy.”
This story has been updated to reflect the events in Shougang.
Journalist Lianne Kolirin reported from London, and Nectar Gan and Tom Booth reported from Beijing.