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Rogers: ‘Japan lost its nerve over Zaha’s Tokyo stadium’

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Richard Rogers has hit out at the move to drop Zaha Hadid Architects from the £1.3 billion Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Rogers, who judged the original contest which handed the stadium design to Zaha Hadid Architects, expressed his concern after Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe called for a rethink of the 2020 Olympic venue.  

He said: ‘For Japan to lose their nerve now, and abandon a design by one of the world’s foremost living architects that was selected by an international jury, will not only result in a poorer quality stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but also in damage to Japan’s international credibility, and reputation as a promoter of world-class architectural design.’

This will damage Japan’s international credibility

Rogers added: ‘Every major project faces challenges, but architect and client can almost always work together to resolve them. If the design needs to change in response to cost or other issues, I am sure that the Zaha Hadid Architects team would be willing to make them.’

Last month Abe instructed the country’s sports and Olympics ministers to go back to the drawing board on the 80,000-seat venue after the budget ballooned to almost double the original £674 million estimate.

Fingers had been pointed at the stadium’s controversial design, causing Hadid to release a lengthy statement in a bid to ‘set the record straight’.

The AJ120 practice insisted it had offered to alter its designs for the Tokyo 2020 Games centrepiece venue ‘to achieve a lower construction price’, but that it received no requests to do so.

It blamed the project’s two-stage tender process for leading to an ‘overly high estimate of the cost of construction’.

Work on Hadid’s competition-winning scheme was scheduled to begin in three months’ time, with the stadium due to complete in May 2019 – two months later than originally planned. This deadline is now set to be missed.

Hadid’s project has been repeatedly in the headlines since Hadid defeated a raft of international stars to win the job three years ago.

In June ZHA brushed aside reports that the Japanese government was considering tearing up its contract for the prestigious project.

Last summer the venue was scaled down and redesigned after a petition – led by Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma and Sou Fujimoto – received more than 32,000 signatures calling for it to be scrapped.

Opponents claimed the original design – planned to replace Tokyo’s now-demolished 1964 Olympic national stadium – was ‘oversized’ and would have a negative impact on the nearby Meiji Shrine gardens.

The smaller-scale design was also met with criticism from one of Japan’s most famous architects, Arata Isozaki, who warned it could be a ‘monumental mistake’ and a ‘disgrace to future generations’.

Richard Rogers’ statement in full

‘As a member of the jury that selected architects for the Japan National Stadium, I’d like to express my concern about the decision to cancel the Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) design at this late stage. 

‘For Japan to lose their nerve now, and abandon a design by one of the world’s foremost living architects that was selected by an international jury, will not only result in a poorer quality stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but also in damage to Japan’s international credibility, and reputation as a promoter of world-class architectural design. 

‘Every major project faces challenges, but architect and client can almost always work together to resolve them.  If the design needs to change in response to cost or other issues, I am sure that the ZHA team would be willing to make them.  

‘In 2004, I was co-chair of the jury which gave ZHA the award for the Aquatic Centre in London’s Olympic Park. This went through a number of design changes, but has since become an iconic building and popular with the public.’

 

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Architects really don't help themselves do they? Accusing the Japanese Government basically of cowardice (if you know anything about Japanese culture - this is a very deep insult).
    Architects reputations for cost overruns are legendary....
    It makes you wince at the nerve of such a comment - even though Richard Rogers is one of the good guys for sure.

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