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Protesters still unhappy with Zaha’s Tokyo Stadium

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Objectors to Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) plans for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium are still unhappy with the practice’s proposals, despite a number of changes to the designs

Veteran Japanese architect Edward Suzuki, founder of Tokyo-based practice Edward Suzuki Associates, who launched a second online protest against ZHA’s original proposals for a 290,000m² stadium has said the amended scheme remained ‘too big and too expensive’.

Suzuki’s petition against the project has garnered almost 2,500 supporters. It is effectively an English translation of a previous anti-ZHA stadium petition by Japanese heavyweights and Pritzker Prize-winners Fumihiko Maki and Toyo Ito. 

Combined, the two petitions which call for the huge new stadium to be scrapped and an existing arena on the site to be re-used, have amassed more than 31,600 signatories.

Initial protests resulted in Hadid going back to the drawing board and the reworked and ‘refined’ scheme (pictured) was revealed last week (10 July).

But protesters have said the scheme, which has been shrunk by a fifth, is still too large and that the revised costs ‘do not make sense’.

Suzuki said: ‘It’s still too big and too expensive initially as well as maintenance-wise. They reduced the size by 20 per cent, but somehow the cost is reduced to almost 50 per cent, which does not make sense.

He added: ‘A reliable architect knows that any quote at this “preliminary” phase hardly means anything. The probable cost can only be arrived at when all the working drawings are complete.’

‘But then again, Hadid is known to exceed the budget, as she did recently in Korea, where the cost exceeded the budget by 200 per cent.’

ZHA declined to comment.


Alastair Townsend of Tokyo-based Bakoko:
‘We all know what wins a competition and what gets built can be completely different things, so it’s no surprise to see the stadium’s design has descended from the realm of sci-fi, landing squarely onto the urban reality with all its political inertia and prosaicness.

It’s a shame that a better balance couldn’t be struck

‘However, the latest form looks placed upon a podium, quite a contrast from the earlier confluence of forms and flows. Popular criticism objected to the overreach of the earlier design. Also facing inevitable budgetary realities,

‘Hadid seems to have retreated into the smooth confines of the arena, as if throwing up her hands and leaving the tricky contextual dilemmas to the experienced – and certainly uncontroversial – hands of local architects, contractors and government bureaucrats. It’s a shame that a better balance couldn’t be struck.’

Previous story (AJ 10.07.14)

Zaha reworks Tokyo Stadium after fierce opposition

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has reworked and ‘refined’ designs for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Stadium in the wake of local opposition

The practice said it had ‘refined’ its design for the new national stadium after a period of ‘design evolution and refinement’.

According to Hadid, the scheme had been changed to make it more ‘efficient, user-focussed adaptable, and sustainable’.

The move comes after a pair of petitions, amassing more than 31,600 names, had called for the stadium to be scrapped and Tokyo’s existing stadium saved from demolition and revamped.

Both petitions had claimed that ZHA’s design for the 80,000-seat stadium were ‘oversized’ and would have a negative impact on the area’s historic gardens.

Full statement from Zaha Hadid Architects

‘The new National Stadium design has been refined to optimize the investment and make the stadium even more efficient, user-focussed, adaptable and sustainable. This exceptional adaptability enables the stadium to host the widest variety of sporting, cultural and community events including popular high school and college games, J-League and Japanese national team matches, athletics championships, rugby tournaments, in addition to concerts, conferences, exhibitions and events by Japanese and international artists and performers. The design gives maximum accessibility of sport and culture for everyone in Tokyo.

‘Community facilities and public walkways are integrated within the design. The stadium is an arched frame with the civic realm of the surrounding environment extending into the building. Lightweight, tensile fabric between the stadium’s structure significantly reduces the weight and materials of the roof, giving the stadium even greater flexibility as both an outdoor and indoor venue.  

‘The central location further increases the stadium’s accessibility for all Tokyo’s residents. 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. No construction works or redevelopment will be required for use after 2020.  

‘All projects around the world go through this process of design evolution and refinement, and we are working closely with the client and our Japanese colleagues throughout the process. The client has assembled an excellent team with tremendous knowledge and experience, and each member of the team is very proud to be delivering this significant public project for Japan.’

Previous story (AJ 26.05.14)

New anti-stadium petition mounts pressure on Zaha

A second petition against Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) competition winning Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Stadium has been launched

The latest online protest, which at the time of writing had 398 signatures, is backed by veteran Japanese architect Edward Suzuki, founder of Tokyo-based Edward Suzuki Associates.

Suzuki’s petition is effectively an English translation of an existing petition by Japanese heavyweights and Pritzker Prize winners Fumihiko Maki and Toyo Ito which has already garnered more than 15,000 signatories (AJ 10.10.13).

Both petitions claim that ZHA’s design for the 80,000-seat stadium are ‘oversized’ and will have a negative impact on the area’s historic gardens.

They demand that the government ditch the scheme and instead upgrade the existing national stadium – the Meiji Jingo Gaien Stadium and its gardens – which will be demolished to make way for the Zaha scheme.

‘Generally I like Zaha’s designs,’ said Suzuki. ‘And I believe she has made a statement in architectural history.

‘The problem with the new Olympic stadium is really not her fault, but whoever made the design program for it, namely the Japanese government, the JOC [Japanese Olympic Committee], and the JSC.

‘If it were not in the context for which it was designed but, say in the more spacious Odaiba waterfront district, it could have been a worthwhile project to realize. But no way in the Meiji Shrine Outer Gardens! There, it is an unforgivable sin!

‘My campaign is basically to help the large organisation, ‘ said Suzuki. ‘In the end, we are one. I only wanted to help the original petition by creating an English version.

‘Hardly anyone from the respective government agencies or the media were listening to our plea,’ he added.

Zaha Hadid Architects declined to comment.  


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