Zaha Hadid Architects’ redesigned Tokyo 2020 Olympics stadium scheme will be ‘dull and look like a turtle’ – according to one of Japan’s most famous architects
Arata Isozaki has warned the latest, scaled-down vision for the Games centrepiece could be a ‘monumental mistake’ and a ‘disgrace to future generations’.
The 83-year-old called on the arena’s client – the Japan Sports Council – to invite Zaha Hadid to redesign the stadium from scratch in light of the revised brief.
In a letter to the organisation, he said: ‘Two years ago, I felt that the Zaha Hadid proposal… was a design that presented an excellent image of a 21st century urban architecture.’
He continued: ‘However, when I saw the revised proposal… I was shocked to see that the dynamism presented in the original had gone. What remains is a dull, slow form, like a turtle waiting for Japan to sink so that it can swim away.’
The 80,000-capacity stadium project has been mired in controversy ever since Hadid defeated a raft of international stars to win the job two years ago.
The scheme was scaled down and redesigned this summer after a petition – led by Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma and Sou Fujimoto –received more than 32,000 signatures calling for the design to be scrapped.
Opponents claimed the original design – planned to replace Tokyo’s 1964 Olympic national stadium – was ‘oversized’ and would have a negative impact on the nearby Meiji Shrine gardens.
Responding to the latest criticism, a spokesperson for Zaha Hadid Architects said in a statement the design responded to a revised brief issued earlier this year.
The statement said: ‘The design is user-focussed, adaptable and sustainable, offering the greatest accessibility of sport and culture for all in Japan as both an outdoor and indoor venue.’
The statement continued: ‘Its scale is a direct correlation to the project brief’s seating capacity of 80,000 to meet the client’s requirements for flexibility and capacity, enabling the greatest future use by Japan’s sporting, cultural, civic and community organizations.’
According to the practice the arena will be ready for legacy use without any need for conversion following the games.