When Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was announced as the winner of an international competition to design the Japanese National Stadium in Tokyo, the firm’s designs were met with mixed reactions. Some praised the strong, characteristically sculptural aesthetic proposed by ZHA whilst others argued that it lacked respect for the immediate context.
Cries for refinements to the winning concept came from a concerned public and a number of high-profile architects including Fumihiko Maki, Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma and Sou Fujimoto. On 11 October 2013, Maki hosted a symposium entitled ‘Re-thinking the New National Olympic Stadium in Historical Background of Jingu-Gaien’, which was streamed live online. At the crux of Maki’s argument was that ZHA’s concept was simply too large for the given site.
This week the design studio has released new renderings which show a transformed design. Of the refined concept, ZHA says: “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.”
The use of lightweight, tensile fabric as part of the new design looks to reduce the weight and materials used within the roof structure. There is further flexibility provided throughout, with the stadium able to host school sports matches, athletics championships, rugby tournaments, concerts, conferences and exhibitions after the 2020 Olympic Games. An arched frame connects the stadium volume with the surrounding civic realm.
ZHA concludes: “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.”