Posts tagged with "Tokyo":

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AN rounds up the hottest 2020 Summer Olympics venues in Tokyo

Eight out of the 42 venues slated to host next summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be brand new. All were designed by Japanese architects, and it’s one of the rare times that the biennial sporting event isn’t banking on the brand recognition of a foreign-born design team for one of its main buildings. In fact, most of the architecture is old; 25 venues are already existing thanks to Japan’s plans to repurpose a number of the buildings constructed for the 1964 Summer Olympics, the last time Tokyo hosted the Games.  Though Kengo Kuma’s timber-clad Olympic Stadium will be at the center of the sprawling citywide sporting campus, the other slew of structures—most of them inspired by Japanese tradition—will also put Tokyo’s architecture on the world’s stage. Take a look at some of the buildings that are coming up for 2020, as well as the ones that will return to the spotlight:   Olympic Stadium Architect: Kengo Kuma Capacity: 68,000 Sport: Opening/Closing Ceremonies, soccer, track and field After almost of decade of controversy over the design of the Olympic Stadium, Kengo Kuma’s vision is nearly complete. An all wood-and-steel structure, it broke ground in December 2016 on the site of the former National Stadium which was demolished the year prior. Kuma’s design was criticized upon release, many citing its similarity to Zaha Hadid’s defunct proposal for the project, which she won in 2012. Hadid’s proposal proved too costly, so the Japanese government decided to rebid the site in late 2015, asking designers to partner with local contractors who could estimate costs and timing. Kuma won in a partnership with several major groups including the Taisei Corporation and Toyo Ito.   Olympic Aquatics Center Architect: Yamashita Sekkei and Cox Architecture Capacity: 15,000 Sport: Swimming, diving, synchronized swimming Scheduled for completion in February, the Aquatics Center features a distinct and thin roof supported by four bare pillars that rise from the ground level. Its four angular all-glass facades appear to have a rib-like pattern going from end to end, drawing the eye upward to focus on the trapezoidal-shaped platform atop it. The entire 828,800-square-foot arena, located in the North Tokyo Bay, is raised on a podium and is expected to weigh 7,000 tons.   Ariake Arena Architect: Kume Sekkei Capacity: 12,000 Sport: Indoor Volleyball  Volleyball made its Olympic debut in 1964, coincidentally the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games, and the future Ariake Arena was a major part of the city’s 2020 bid. Situated in a northwest corner of Tokyo Bay next to the Ariake Tennis Park, the almost-complete project features a convex roof design that’s unlike any other venue in the athletic event. Resembling an inverted crest wave, the silver-structure boasts incredible views of the bay outside its front door.  Olympic Village Architect: Unknown Capacity: 17,000 athletes Tokyo’s Olympic Village will be located on the Harumi Pier, which is at the physical center of the Heritage and Tokyo Bay venue zones—the two areas where the venues have been allocated for Tokyo 2020. Spread out over 33 acres, the village will contain 22 buildings ranging from 14 to 22 stories, as well as two 50-story residential towers. It’s another controversial project: locals are concerned about the site’s functionality after the Olympics are over. Plans call for some 5,650 apartments to be built in the next five years, which has the real estate market worried. Branded as the Harumi Flag community, the development will include commercial space, parks, and a school on the pier as well. More interestingly, it’s supposed to be the largest hydrogen-powered development in the world. Ariake Gymnastics Center Architect: Nikken Sekkei Capacity: 12,000 Sport: Gymnastics Located in Tokyo’s Koto Ward just steps away from the Olympic Village, the Ariake Gymnastics Center will feature more wood than any other venue in its bowl-shaped design. Construction is set to finish in October on the one-million-square-foot, low-lying structure which, according to the Japan Times, includes slanted walls as a nod to the engawa verandas found on traditional Japanese homes. The central element of the architecture is a massive, 394-foot-long-by-295-foot-wide wood roof that arches over the building’s core. The exterior includes a series of crisscrossed wooden poles that stretch from the overhang of the roof to the plaza below.  Here's a rundown of the older venues that will host an event for Tokyo 2020: Yoyogi National Stadium Architect: Kenzo Tange Capacity: 13,000 Sport: handball Built: 1964 Known for: Its parabolic roof design and for inspiring Frei Otto’s design for the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Nippon Budokan Architect: Mamoru Tamada Capacity: 41,000 Sport: Judo Built: 1964 Known for: Its octagonal shape and pointed roof that references Mt. Fuji., as well as a concrete lower half that looks like a Brutalist version of a traditional Japanese temple.  Sapporo Dome Architect: Hiroshi Hara Capacity: 41,000 Sport: Soccer Built: 2001, for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Known for: Its metallic exterior and futuristic form, as well as for boasting the first retractable pitch in the world.  Tatsumi International Swimming Centre Architect: Environment Design Institute  Capacity: 3,600 Sport: Water polo Built: 1993 Known for: Its space frame roof and all-white exterior cladding, that folds over the glass and concrete building to create curved frames for views.  Tokyo Big Sight Architect: AXS Satow Size: 1.1 million square feet Sport: Planned to host wrestling, fencing, and taekwondo, but will now be the main media center Built: 1996 Known for: Its four inverted pyramids clad in titanium that together house a convention center.  Izu Velodrome Architect: Gensler and Schurmann Architects Capacity: 1,800; 4,300 with temporary seating Sport: Track Cycling Built: 2011 Known for: The silver drum-shaped building holds the first 250-meter-long indoor track made of timber in Japan.
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Why doesn't the U.S. design buildings to survive earthquakes?

Earthquakes have been in the news lately with increasing regularity: Southern California recently experienced a July 4th quake registering 6.4 on the Richter scale followed by one just a day later at 7.1. It's predicted that within the week there's an 11 percent chance that a major quake could follow, and, of course, there's the looming specter of the so-called Big One. But despite the relative frequency of seismic activity on the West coast and in other parts of the United States, in general, the U.S. lags behind other earthquake-prone countries, especially Japan, in terms of earthquake readiness. A recent New York Times investigation asked why, when buildings can be designed to stand up to earthquakes, the United States has so few of them. Though there are notable exceptions—like older retrofits such as Los Angeles’s city hall, and luxurious new construction like Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed headquarters, a ring that floats on base isolators rather than being fixed to a traditional foundation—most buildings in the States feature concrete cores, relatively un-rigid construction, and no seismic shock absorbers or isolation systems. Even those that do, the Times reports, are of varying quality of construction, with many failing basic preparedness tests. Simply put, while Japanese buildings are, in general, designed to sway in an earthquake and minimize damage (and use a steel grid to make up their core), American buildings are designed primarily to fail and collapse in a way that will hopefully minimize loss of life. This can mostly be chalked up to not only weak regulations, but to economics. It’s more costly to build an earthquake-ready building, though obviously only in the short run. A federal study demonstrated that rebuilding after a quake in urban centers will cost billions of dollars, and is four times as expensive as simply building a structure that can stand up to an earthquake in the first place. However, with lax laws and a real estate and development market that prioritizes short term ownership and thinking, building owners and developers remain wary of spending the extra cash up front; estimated to only add approximately 13–15 percent in cost in a seven-story building, according to the Japanese construction company Nice Corporation. Though, per the Times, engineer Ian Aiken says that some systems “can cost as little as 5% more.” Tokyo, which experiences more than 1,000 seismic events each year, is also anticipating its own big quake in the next 30 years, a follow up to the devastating 1923 earthquake. while predictions of the potential damage remain calamitous, there is perhaps no city more ready to take the hit. Not only are high rises, skyscrapers, and smaller buildings all designed to withstand significant seismic activity, but, as The Guardian reports, “parks feature hidden emergency toilets and benches that turn into cooking stoves, and the city has the world’s largest fire brigade, specifically trained to prevent the kind of flash blazes that spread after earthquakes.” The city is not only a world population and business center, but also a major tourist destination, something that's likely to become only more true with events like the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. But even new construction for the Olympics is getting the high tech treatment. Seismic isolation bearings are being placed inside the new Tokyo Aquatics Center and the Ariake Arena, which will be home to Olympic volleyball and wheelchair basketball games. The aquatics center and arena are using Bridgestone Seismic Isolation Systems, an update to older methods that relied on increasing the rigidity of buildings or adding additional framing. Instead of adding greater rigidity, base isolation systems use rubber bearings ranging in size between approximately 23 inches and 70 inches to allow structures to sway slowly and cause only minor disturbances, if any at all, on the floors above, instead of allowing the whole structure to shake violently. Similar such bearings can be found in buildings like Tokyo Station and Los Angeles's City Hall. While the isolators are often placed in the foundations of buildings, for the new arenas, they’ve been located in the roofs, a common approach for buildings with large open spaces that helps decrease the stress on the roof’s support elements. Still, all the technology in the world only goes so far if the community isn’t prepared. As Tokyo-based disaster preparedness specialist Ronin Takashi Lewis told The Guardian, even all this tech, “If you look around the Tokyo skyscrapers it’s incredible how advanced a lot of technology here is, especially seismic resistance – but my concern is preparedness at the community and individual level.” As per usual, technology alone won’t save us. Still, hopefully the United States can learn from Tokyo and invest in resilient buildings for safer cities and communities.
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Get some exclusive insight into Atelier Bow-Wow’s New York exhibition

Continuing their influential body of work examining the city from fresh angles and novel frameworks, Atelier Bow-Wow’s Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto will cocurate Made In Tokyo: Architecture and Living 1964–2020 at New York’s Japan Society. The show, scheduled to open in October, will examine Tokyo in the period between the 1964 and the 2020 Olympics, both of which were hosted in the Japanese capital and marked shifts caused by enormous infrastructural investment. Made In Tokyo, a close examination of the flows of everyday life and urban institutions, will feature models, drawings, and photographs of a collection of architecture and art that developed around the city in this period of extraordinary change. AN executive editor Matt Shaw exchanged emails with the iconic duo as they prepare the exciting exhibition.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What can we expect from this show? How does it relate to your book projects, particularly Made in Tokyo, which shares a name with the exhibition?

Atelier Bow-Wow: What you can see from this exhibition is the Tokyo of the two Olympics, seen through the evolution of various urban institutions. Our book, Made in Tokyo (2001), showed the life of this unique city through the observation of “hybrid” metropolitan structures. By applying this lens to the urban institutions that were being created in 1964 and 2020, the years of the two Tokyo Olympics, we will showcase the change, or metabolism, of the life of Tokyo.

How did you sort through almost 60 years of architecture and development of the largest metropolis in the world? What were you looking for as you made your framework?

The urban architecture that was built between the last Tokyo Olympics and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics can be categorized in two ways: architecture that supports the everyday life of Tokyo (transit stations, city halls, offices, houses, etc.) and architecture that supports the nonroutine life (capsule hotels, stadiums, department stores, etc.). Comparing these two kinds of architecture and observing how the environments, conditions, and social expectations for each type has changed will reveal how life in Tokyo has transformed.

What are the major transitions you identify? What built works illustrate them?

Size. The size of the Olympics, the size of cities, the size of economic impact, the technical environment—namely, the internet—how families should live, the way of working, commercial services, demographics of cities, etc., have all changed drastically.

Were there surprises that you came across as you surveyed the city and its history? What assumptions about Tokyo might be upended?

We are the generation of the previous Tokyo Olympics and cannot hide how surprised we are at the tremendous turnover of city spaces from what we remember in our childhood memories. Since the government handed over the reins of urban creation to the private sector, the logic of capital and industry has entered into every corner of the city and started determining the shapes of life and urban spaces. Although it is widely said that the 70-year period of peace in Tokyo—without war or huge earthquakes—has contributed to cultivating a city that values quality over quantity, I think in reality it is livelihood that is servicing capital and industry.

From the outside, 1964–2020 in Japan seems to be a very positive and optimistic period of growth. Is that true?

Since World War II, we had grown in both population and economically until around 1990. Various urban institutions were created with great productivity and enthusiasm. Especially in the 1960s—15 years after the end of the war—young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, the institutions that were built in the 20th century are showing their age and need to be renovated. In high-value areas in central Tokyo, there is an incentive for large capital and organizations to move toward mass redevelopment that increases the total floor space, thus covering operating costs. On the other hand, buildings in the other areas are left to the tides of time and tend to be unoccupied and deteriorating. These buildings are often revitalized by young architects and activities rooted in their neighborhoods. In short, bipolarization is happening, and we cannot be positive about the situation.

Now we are moving to the idea of “revival” and localism of the countryside rather than Tokyo’s centralism. Tokyo has been established on the support of the rural areas, but the fact has become more apparent and Tokyo is getting situated as one of the cities in the network of lives.

You include several avant-garde artworks, including some performance pieces, that are critical of Japanese economic development and consumerism. How do those fit into your narrative? Why did you include them?

They show what “ambiences” are surrounding architecture in each era. Along with focusing on urban institutions, we would also like visitors to imagine the backgrounds and conditions that surround the institutions.

(These responses were translated from Japanese into English.)

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GSAPP’s DeathLAB examines evolving attitudes towards mortality

The SANAA-designed 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art at Kanazawa, Japan, is hosting the exhibition DeathLAB: Democratizing Death, featuring works by the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)-based, transdisciplinary lab, led by associate professor of architecture Karla Rothstein. The exhibition is free and runs through March 24, 2019. The exhibition covers DeathLAB's architectural and artistic proposals that address the changing nature of spaces of death in contemporary society, a topic with particular relevance to Japan. The Japanese urban landscape is stressed by over-population, declining birthrates, and an aging population. Due to a shortage of space, people have begun seeking affordable space-saving burial measures. For example, in Tokyo, CNN reported on the Ruriden, a repository of LED-lit Buddha statues, and Shinjuku Rurikoin Byakurengedo, a futuristic temple designed by Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama of Amorphe. It contains a “smart library for ashes” that transports people using a conveyor belt system to underground urns. Alternative practices such as online funerals are also on the rise. The exhibition showcases DeathLAB’s ongoing work in this area through a three-part film and architectural models. The films feature interviews with experts in areas ranging from philosophy to historic preservation.
An illuminated model of Constellation Park, a 2014 unbuilt project, has been assembled for the show. According to a statement by the museum’s curator, Yoshiko Takahashi, “the project proposed nesting thousands of light-emitting ‘memorial vessels’ underneath New Yorkʼs iconic Manhattan Bridge. Harnessing the human bodyʼs latent bio-energy, the memorial vessels would be populated with calibrated microbial colonies to gradually decompose corpses over the course of a year, generating methane that would, in turn, be used to illuminate the vessel network in a dazzling constellation of mourning lights.” The lab believes that death transcends differences of “ethnicity, religion, and political/economic constraints." Constellation Park is meant to be an example of how death can be “democratized” in the metropolis. The project reinterprets the process of biodegradation present in natural burials. It is inspired by the 1960s Japanese Metabolist movement that was enamored with the relationship between organic biological growth and architecture. Check out this link for more details.
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teamLab to open immersive digital museum in Tokyo

Tokyo-based collective teamLab is set to open its DIGITAL ART MUSEUM in Tokyo on June 21, 2018. With the support of developer MORI Building, the museum will be the first in the world to exclusively feature digital exhibitions. teamLab told Quartz that their new museum addresses what they perceive to be a lack of spaces dedicated just to digital art, and that their museum will allow “visitors to melt into the art and become part of it.” The sprawling 110,000-square-foot museum possesses a maze-like floor plan centered on five spaces. With the aid of nearly 1,000 computers and projectors, along with real time coding, the installations react and respond to visitors, creating a series of shifting and immersive three-dimensional spaces. In total, these spaces will hold approximately 50 alterable works. According to teamLab, the museum’s principal exhibition, Borderless, breaks from curatorial conventions by possessing “no borders with other works,” with the capacity “to leave the installation rooms and move down corridors, communicate with other works, and sometimes fuse with them.” Installations within Borderless, such as Flower Forest and Terraced Rice Field, are designed to encourage visitor exploration across the expansive setting, through spaces of windswept flowers and beneath fabricated lily pads. As their own microcosms, the spaces possess illuminated shelters and hidden alcoves. Within the museum, a significant portion of the exhibitions will focus on creative spaces for children that hone their sense of spatial awareness through the navigation of a multi-sensory environment. Athletics Forest is composed of slopes, peaks and valleys connected by a series of landscape swings, hanging bars and bouncing surfaces. The entire area is illuminated by three-dimensional projections that migrate across the undulating landscape. Located at the center of Athletics Forest is Inverted Globe, a townscape with roads, homes and vegetation that defy gravity by clinging to the steep slopes of the landscape. Since the museum’s installations are digital, they can be continually adapted by teamLab to add new features, such as seasonal changes or entirely new landscapes. Established in 2001, teamLab is known for their bold public installations and interactive exhibitions that invite participation.
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Tezuka Architects wins 2017 Moriyama RAIC International Prize

At Fuji Kindergarten, designed by Tezuka Architects, children enter an oval-shaped building with an open-air rooftop playground, with trees entering into classrooms and virtually no division between play and learning spaces, between the indoor or outdoors. On Tuesday, the firm was awarded the Moriyama RAIC International Prize for this project in a ceremony held in Toronto. The Moriyama RAIC International Prize recognizes one architect, team of architects, or architect-led collaboration for a single work of architecture that is deemed as a transformative and inspirational contribution to society, and comes with a monetary prize of $100,000. The work must embrace humanistic values of social justice, respect, equality and inclusiveness within the community.   Tezuka Architects, a husband-and-wife practice based out of Tokyo, Japan have been previously recognized for their people-centered designs. The firm was chosen from a shortlist including BIG, John Wardle Architects and NADAAA, and Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. 

Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, Fuji Kindergarten is a single-story oval-shaped building 183 meters in circumference, with the roof serving as a playground. Three enormous trees were incorporated into the building, soaring through the classrooms and up to the roof, encouraging children to climb, with protective nets installed to catch them. A network of staircases, slides and skylights joins the two levels, making the roof accessible and inviting. Designed for 600 students, the building encourages community and social interaction. The interior classrooms are interconnected, partitioned only with movable furniture. Noise flows freely through the school, outside to inside, challenging the norm of quiet learning spaces so common in kindergartens (a condition which often makes children nervous and uncomfortable). Throughout most of the year, all the sliding doors are open, harmonizing the outdoor and indoor, a common theme in Tezuka Architects' work. 
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YKK's LEED Platinum Tokyo Headquarters

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Brought to you with support from
Tokyo-based YKK Fudosan Co, Ltd, part of YKK Group's global network, has obtained LEED-BD+C (Core and Shell) Platinum certification for its YKK80 Building. It was the first such certification for a new office building in Japan. The goal of the project team was to reduce energy consumption by 60% when compared to typical office buildings. To achieve this, the design prioritized water and energy efficiency along with a healthy indoor environment. Open space within the seismically isolated structure was utilized as a heat sink for the geothermal heating system of the building. Other features include sensors for day-lighting and motion-activated operability, outdoor air cooling and mist facilities for the exterior shaft, radiant panels, desiccant air cooling, and high-performance electrical outlets.
  • Facade Manufacturer YKK AP (metal screen, windows)
  • Architects Nikken Sekkei Ltd.
  • Facade Installer Kajima Corporation, Toda Corporation and Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd. joint venture
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Tokyo, Japan
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System Steel reinforced concrete; seismically isolated structure; double-skin facade with integrated blinds
  • Products custom YKK metal screen and glazing assembly
The architects, Nikken Sekkei Ltd, say the site of the building posed the biggest challenge for the project. Located in a busy area of the city along an elevated expressway with a primary west-facing exposure, the project team relied heavily on the building envelope to provide necessary acoustical and solar protection. The facade design, engineered in-house by Nikken Sekkei, employs a double-skin curtain wall which includes automatic blinds within the cavity and a custom exterior aluminum screen. Set outboard of this facade, a custom metal screen manufactured by YKK was incorporated to provide further solar protection. Covering the roughly 25,000-square-foot primary facade, the mesh-like appearance of the screen is comprised of two layers of delicate extruded aluminum “Y” sections. Beyond the facade, a “forest dining room” features bright and simple design scheme, using plain wood as the base color for both the interior finishing and furnishings. The cafe, which roasts its own beans on the premises, serves as a PR activity and is directly managed by YKK, is located on the first floor. The theme color of the cafe was used for the eaves and walls. Furthermore, the shape of the lighting box was cut into Y, the image design was taken from YKK. For workstations on the standard floor, the emphasis was placed on smooth operations, with our original design used for desk systems. The architects say the facade system at YKK80 creates a varied expression while maintaining a uniform appearance. “From a practical standpoint, the metal screen was incorporated to help reduce the strong west sunlight and filter the view of the busy neighborhood from the interior. The details joining sections of the metal screen were carefully designed so that the screen would appear seamless, or in other words, a single fabric. We felt it was important for the 'screen' to appear like a single fabric that wraps the building.”
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Kazuyo Sejima designs museum dedicated to Japanese artist Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, the artist behind the The Great Wave Off Kanagawa—a painting so famous it even has its own emoji—now has a museum dedicated to his work. The Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo opened in November last year and was designed by Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder of SANAA.

Inside, more than 18,000 works from Hokusai and his protégés are on display. On the outside, however, a reflective aluminum skin wraps around the entire structure, dampening its monolithic form. The aluminum facade comprises an arrangement of angled panels. This formation allows the museum entrance to remain ambiguous and relatively undefined. Meanwhile, angled cuts through the building also soften the form's presence while serving as a way of allowing daylight in—the museum has no directly outward facing windows.

In addition to letting light in, the angular voids also provide views out. Museum-goers can enjoy vistas of Japan's capital city from within when on the upper levels. Walkways and programming too are defined by these incisions.

As part of the brief, Sejima was asked to design a museum that appealed to both tourists and locals. Hokusai lived in the region of Sumida, Edo (now known as Tokyo) roughly 200 years ago. The museum dedicated to his work and legacy resides in the same area—hence its name. The Pritzker Prize–winning architect's five-story building not only holds close to 20,000 works but, includes seminar, lecture, and workshop spaces, as well as a research center. This program is a bid to broaden the scope of Hokusai's work, making it accessible to a wider audience and cementing his status within the art world.

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This museum in a Tokyo warehouse is dedicated to preserving architectural models

A recently-opened museum in Tokyo aims to archive and display architectural models from great Japanese architects like Kengo Kuma, Riken Yamamoto, and Shigeru Ban. The museum treats the models as  important archival pieces in respect to their finished buildings as well as pieces of art worthy of appreciation. The museum is called Archi-Depot, and it’s located in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo. Its founder, Warehouse Terrada, is a storage company that advertises its expertise in storing wine, art, and other media. This helps explain the layout of the space, which has its models simply arranged on 116 shelves in an open warehouse. Guests can look up more information, including photos and blueprints, of each model using QR codes. The layout of the museum is clean and minimalist, and it doesn't take an expert in architecture to appreciate these delicate miniatures. According to Archi-Depot, their mission is work at the intersection of museum and archive. “Architectural models are considered to be profound materials that transmit designers’ thoughts, as well as being high quality sculpture works,” the museum says on their website. “Fans of architecture will gather from all over the world, as ARCHI-DEPOT has an accumulation of Japanese architectural models.” This museum is the first of its kind in Japan but its philosophy is similar to that of the Richard Meier Model Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey, which specifically gathers models made by the Pritzker winning architect Richard Meier. Other museums have dedicated specific exhibits to architectural models.
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Playing with blocks: Kengo Kuma designs Japanese-style Lego pieces

Scaling down from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has teamed up with forest conservation organization More Trees to create a set of triangular-shaped wooden building blocks. The stackable kit of parts is made of Japanese cedar wood, and has been described as the Japanese version of Lego. The minimalist design of each block, known as tsumiki, or “wooden blocks” in Japanese, allows for countless different configurations and arrangements. The pieces can be easily disassembled and restacked. People of all ages were able to enjoy Kuma’s creations at Tokyo Design Week last November, where Kengo Kuma & Associates formed a pavilion made up of giant-sized tsumiki pieces in a central Tokyo park. “I have loved tsumiki my whole life, every since I was a young boy. And my dream came true, I designed tsumiki myself, the sort which hadn’t existed before,” said Kuma in a statement. “The set is not a heavy, masonry kind of wood block, but a light, transparent system just like what you see in traditional Japanese architecture.” The individual wooden pieces are reminiscent of the pavilion that Kuma designed in Paris’ Jardin des Tuileries, which is made of a complex lattice of identical stacked timber beams. Kuma is known for his explorations of timber construction, and has employed woodworking in a number of projects including the Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building and the Sunny Hills retail store. Kuma’s building block set is available in three different sizes: a 7-piece set, a 13-piece set, and a 22-piece set.
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Kengo Kuma claims commission for Tokyo Olympic Stadium as Hadid fumes

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. 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. 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. 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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After Zaha Hadid bows out, two new proposals unveiled for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium

After controversy and budget overruns surrounding Zaha Hadid's curvy design for Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, the starchitect bowed out of the running. But Tokyo still needs a stadium, and two just-released proposals show a decidedly more traditional design. The Japan Sports Council announced that the winner will be selected before the year is up, however, upon publishing details of the proposals, they have chosen to keep the submissions anonymous. That said, Nikkan Sports speculates that architects Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma are the two practices vying for the lucrative commission. Supposing this claim is true, one can quickly deduce that proposal "A" belongs to Kengo Uma and that proposal "B" is Toyo' based on both firms' previous projects and inherent style. An in-depth insight into both the plans can be found on the council's website (it's all in Japanese) and it's clear that both submissions clearly outline costs and construction details—a hard lesson learned after Hadid's proposal, which was vetoed by the council, after it spiralled up to $2 billion. Now, both submissions cost around half of Hadid's proposal, ringing in at $1.2 billion. Utilizing a wood and steel roof, Proposal A 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. Meanwhile, Proposal B incorporates a much more modern aesthetic, especially in its roof design. The roof design, however, as artful as it may be, is primarily functional. The curvature encapsulates sound generated from spectators, creating a more fervent atmosphere while keeping the neighbors happy. Supporting the roof will be 72 pillars that wrap around the stadium. What defines Proposal B is its unique and feathery undulating roof, but also the solid wood pillars that will be equally spaced around the stadium. The 72 weight-bearing pillars will serve a symbolic purpose in that they reference Japan’s tradition of building pillars to honor festivities. The number of pillars is also special, representing the 72 micro-seasons of Japan, a feature of Japan's culture that is exhibited further with a 2788.71 foot track that informs visitors of each micro-season with each pillar.