Kengo Kuma claims commission for Tokyo Olympic Stadium as Hadid fumes

Architecture International News
Proposal from "B" (Courtesy Japan Sports Council)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma)

At last, design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium has finally been decided with Kengo Kuma‘s winning commission. The Japanese firm fought off a plan by Toyo Ito to claim the prize. Zaha Hadid, however, was less than complimentary of the decision.

Proposal from "A" (Courtesy Japan Sports Council)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma)

The 80,000 capacity stadium will cost $1.2 billion, almost half the cost of Hadid’s proposal and will crucially be constructed by Taisei Corp, a major firm in Japan. That’s not to say that decision isn’t still mired in controversy. Nicknamed the “hamburger,” several architects, according to the Financial Times, claim it bears “remarkable similarities” to a an earlier design that was scrapped in July.

Utilizing a wood and steel roof, Kuma’s design creates a green space within the city of Tokyo with the facade’s horizontal lines seemingly referencing the 1,300-year-old Gojunoto wooden pagoda at Horyuji Temple. Meanwhile the environment is completed via the implementation of Jingu Shrine trees and other foliage found within the vicinity of the stadium.

Proposal from "A" (Courtesy Japan Sports Council)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of the design, saying “I think this is a wonderful plan that meets criteria such as basic principles, construction period and cost,” when he announced the winning practice.

Hadid, though, has other ideas.

“Sadly the Japanese authorities, with the support of some of those from our own profession in Japan, have colluded to close the doors on the project to the world,” Zaha Hadid Architect’s said in statement. “This shocking treatment of an international design and engineering team … was not about design or budget.”

“In fact much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today,” she continued.

Proposal from "A" (Courtesy Japan Sports Council)

(Courtesy Kengo Kuma)

Completion is set to be around November 2019, though there are doubts that it will be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup that Japan is hosting that year. This was initially a requirement that was demanded by the Japan Sports Council and one that Hadid says her firm would have been able to meet.

“Work would already be under way building the stadium if the original design team had simply been able to develop this original design, avoiding the increased costs of an 18-month delay and risk that it may not be ready in time for the 2020 Games.”

Meanwhile, president of Tokyo 2020, Yoshiro Mori, has said, “The stadium incorporates the views of experts in the construction field and we are looking forward very much to using the new stadium as the centrepiece of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

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