In the latest Tokyo National Stadium news, Kengo Kuma is firing back to Zaha Hadid's allegations regarding the "similarities" of the two designs by insisting that his "concept is completely different." As reported the Architects' Journal, the Japanese architect agrees there are some natural similarities due to appropriate sightlines and regulations, however the actual design and concept are radically different.
"I believe that the design by Zaha Hadid was excellent, with a unique shape and demonstration of her philosophy," said Kuma in a press conference. "When we consider the design is being created within the same land, using the same tracks and under the same laws it is natural and almost automatic that there are some similarities which will arise."
"And despite the technical details being similar, the concepts and designs are completely different," he added, referring to Hadid's "saddle-style" design and his flat-roofed proposal.
After working on the design for more than two years, the British practice was decommissioned from the project over cost objections last summer. Since, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has been reassigned the project, offering a design that ZHA says is suspiciously similar to their original proposal "in the structure, layout and numerous elements."
Now, the JSC has requested ZHA agrees to new "Compliance Rules" that would allow the stadium's new architect to "use any product of work ... regardless of its copyright."
Shigeru Ban, the 2014 Pritzker Prize winner, is an architect often celebrated for his humanitarian and disaster relief structures, constructed out of recycled or recyclable materials. On the other end of spectrum, he is well-known for his meticulously constructed residential and museum projects, more often than not for high-end wealthy clients. The Nomadic Museum, however, combines both of these facets of his practice, using shipping containers and paper tubes to craft a bespoke mobile gallery for Gregory Colbert’s traveling exhibition of photography entitled Ashes and Snow.
In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"
Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?
"When you put many children in a quiet box, some of them get really nervous," says Japanese architect Takaharu Tezuka, founder of Tezuka Architects. "In this kindergarten, there is no reason for them to get nervous. There is no boundary." Speaking at TEDxKyoto on his design for an open-air kindergarten in Tokyo, Tezuka discusses his playful and unorthodox approach to the creation of the eccentric building. The unconventional space blurs interior with exterior while accommodating a varied program of athletic, educational and relaxed space. According to Tezuka, the concept was based on a progressive philosophy employed by the school administration: "The principal says: if the boy doesn't want to stay in the room, let him go. He will come back eventually." On children, Tezuka's own philosophy is one of empowerment: "Don't control them. Don't protect them too much. They need to tumble sometimes. They need to get injured. That makes them learn how live in this world."
Just two weeks after the Japan Sport Council launched a second call for New National Stadium proposals, Zaha Hadid Architects and partner Nikken Sekkei have withdrawn from the competition. Although the duo promised to develop a "cost-effective" design that strictly adhered to the new competition's scaled down brief, they were unable to secure a contractor and therefore were forced to step down from the competition.
"It is disappointing that the two years of work and investment in the existing design for a new National Stadium for Japan cannot be further developed to meet the new brief through the new design competition," said ZHA in a press release.
Clearly, brevity is not one of ZHA's strong suits, so for those who don't have 30-plus minutes to chew their way through both video and statement, the basics are as follows: the official reason given by the Japanese government for scrapping the stadium has been the rising costs of the design. ZHA have countered this complaint by saying that the rising costs are not a result of their design but of an uncompetitive tender process for the construction, and of skyrocketing construction prices across the whole of Tokyo. They add that by starting the project from scratch, Japan risks overshooting their 2020 deadline for the Olympic venue.
An extra complication is added by the widespread public dislike of the stadium's design, scale and location - most notably coming in the form of a petition led by Fumihiko Maki and Toyo Ito - which has caused some to speculate that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is secretly bowing to political pressure. In response, ZHA's video emphasized the features of the design which were either required by the brief or an attempt to respond to the context, in an attempt to absolve themselves from blame.
However, with the decision to start anew now over a month old, the question remains: will ZHA's attempts to win back the project be enough? More importantly, should this campaign be taken seriously?
The news last year that the Hotel Okura, often described as one of Tokyo´s "Modernist gems," was to be demolished was met with widespread disappointment across the board. Built in 1962 under the design direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been considered a significant architectural landmark in the Japanese capital. With only a week to go until the hotel checks out its last guest, Monocle—having been granted exclusive access—have shared with us a film to capture "the gracious ways of this much-loved building."
How do you compare cities? It's difficult to collapse millions of individual subjective experiences into a single method of comparison, but one popular technique used in recent years has been to judge a city's "livability." But what does this word actually mean? In their 2015 ranking of the world's most livable cities, Metropolis Magazine has gathered together a group of experts on city planning, urban life, tourism and architecture to break down "livability" into the categories they think matter and draw upon Metropolis' considerable urban coverage to produce one of the most thorough attempts to rank world series yet attempted. Find out the results after the break.
Now, British architect Richard Rogers, who served on the jury that selected ZHA's stadium design, has joined the conversation claiming Japan has "lost their nerve" and warning that their decision to "start over from zero" will harm Japan's "reputation as a promoter of world-class architectural design."