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Zaha says design not to blame for cost increases on shelved Tokyo stadium

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Zaha Hadid has defended the design of her proposed £1.3billion Tokyo Olympic stadium after the scheme was dropped due to spiralling costs

Last week Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe called for a rethink of the entire project, which had been due to complete in 2019, after the budget ballooned to almost double the original £674 million estimate.

However Hadid rebutted claims the ambitious design, likened to an ‘intergalactic bike helmet’, had been the cause of the budget rises.

Zaha Hadid Architects said: ‘It is not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan Sports Council.

‘The real challenge for the stadium has been agreeing an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.’

The decision to redesign the venue comes just weeks after it was announced that construction of the controversial 2020 Tokyo Olympic scheme, had been set for October.

According to reports, Abe instructed his sports and Olympics ministers to go back to the drawing board on the contentious 80,000-seat centrepiece venue.

He told a press conference today: ‘We have decided to go back to the start on the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium plan, and start over from zero.

Abe added: ‘I have been listening to the voices of the people for about a month now, thinking about the possibility of a review.’

Work on Hadid’s competition-winning scheme was scheduled to begin in three month’s time, with the stadium due to complete in May 2019 – two months later than originally planned but still in time for the Rugby World Cup. Becasue of the new review this deadline will now 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’.

Comment from Zaha Hadid Architects

‘Our teams in Japan and the UK have been working hard with the Japan Sports Council to design a new National Stadium that would be ready to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019, the Tokyo 2020 Games and meet the need for a new home for Japanese sport for the next 50 to 100 years.

‘It is absolutely right that the benefits and costs of the new National Stadium should be clearly and accurately communicated and understood by the public and decision-makers in Japan and we hope that this is one of the objectives of the review announced by the Prime Minister.

It’s not the case the reported cost increases are due to the design

‘We have used our experience on major sports and cultural projects, including the hugely successful London 2012 Games and legacy, to design a stadium that can be built cost-effectively and still deliver the flexible and robust National Stadium that the Japan Sports Council requires.

‘It is not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan Sports Council. The real challenge for the stadium has been agreeing an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.’

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