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Japan picks new design for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium


A design by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has been chosen to be the country’s new 80,000-capacity National Stadium, which will be the centrepiece of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, it was announced today.

Kuma’s design, which will cost ¥149 billion (£806 million/$1.2 billion/€1.1 billion), was put forward by the Japan Sport Council (JSC), who are in charge of the process, and it was approved today by the Government.

It is part of a consortium of companies which also included construction giant Taisei Corp.

The Stadium is due to be completed by November 2019. 

“I think this is a wonderful plan that meets criteria such as basic principles, construction period and cost,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said.

“This is an excellent plan that satisfies the principle philosophy, construction, deadline and cost of the Olympic plan.”

Kuma’s combined steel and wood structure, with a relatively flat roof with shrubbery along its outer concourses, echoes traditional Japanese temple designs.

It stands 49.2 metres tall, with the track and field below ground level, and is about 20 metres lower than the scrapped design that drew complaints that it dominated the surrounding area. 

It had been “design A” in the two plans shortlisted by the JSC last week 

One architecture critic has claimed the design “looks like a pile of salad plates cleared away before anyone had finished, with bits of lettuce poking out from between the stack of saucers”.

Kuma’s design was chosen ahead of a three-way venture comprising Takenaka Corp., Shimizu Corp. and Obayashi Corp. and involving architect Toyo Ito.

“I am delighted that the selected design proposal for the new national stadium reflects the firm request for an early completion date made by chair of the IOC Coordination Commission Mr. John Coates, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee,” said Yoshirō Mori, President of Tokyo 2020.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the National Government and all related parties for their efforts.

“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 centerpiece of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“I am confident that the Stadium will be the perfect setting for both athletes and spectators alike.”

The decision to choose Kuma’s proposal was made following a review process which included evaluating the two designs and holding 90 minute interviews for each group. 

The JSC’s seven-member panel specialising in architecture and landscape marked the proposals out of 140 points, with cost and construction time accounting for 70 points, attention toward “Japanese-ness” for 50, and enforcement policy for 20.

The two design proposals were unveiled last week.

In addition to the evaluations, the views of former athletes and public comments posted online were taken into account before Kazumi Ohigashi, senior JSC director in charge of the project and stadium operations, selected the winner.

In July, the Japanese Government scrapped the original stadium plan conceived by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid amid public outcry over its estimated cost, which had doubled to ¥252 billion (£1.3 billion/$2 billion/€1.8 billion).

A statement from Zaha Hadid Architects sent out after the new design was chosen claimed that budget was not the main reason they lost the contract.

They insisted they had made modifications to address financial concerns.

“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,” it said.



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