Video: Yoyogi Olympic Arena / Kenzo Tange

Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi Olympic Arena from Yoyogi GSD on Vimeo.

Special thanks to Emmet Truxes, from Harvard GSD, for sharing this animated video of Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi Olympic Arena with us. Check out the amazing visualizations set to music by Gray Reinhard (we particularly love the build-up of the magnificently suspended roof around minute 5, which is then further detailed a few minutes later) which was created by a team of six students - Emmet Truxes, Nathan Shobe, Julian Bushman-Copp, Mijung Kim, Jeffrey Laboskey, Misato Odanaka - to understand the construction of the building’s innovate tensile structure.

More about the project after the break.

In 2014, Tokyo will celebrate the 50th anniversary of hosting the Summer Olympics, and Tange’s arena still excites with its elegant form and innovate structural detailing inspired by suspension bridge technology. Although much of the aesthetic results from the building’s structural integrity, the subtle curves of the structural cables, the sweeping roof plane, and the curving concrete base seem to emerge from the site resulting in one integrated entity. Upon completion, the arena marked the largest suspended roof span in the world.

Working with Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture, Mark Mulligan, the students’ digital model quickly proved to provide  a stronger understanding of the building then previously thought, “Of particular interest was the design of structural joinery that could accommodate continuous geometric change in the roof form during construction as successive layers were added. What emerged from this study, however, was something a great deal more fascinating – and challenging – than what we had anticipated.  Rendering the computer models revealed how the arena’s elusive, curvilinear form radically transforms before our eyes, depending on viewing angle and sun position,” explained Mulligan.

“Looking back now from an era whose advances in computer technology have given us a great deal of certainty in visualizing and evaluating complex structures, we are awed by the thought that Tange and Tsuboi produced such a work fifty years ago using only the most basic computing power, physical models, and a great number of drawings made by hand,” added Mulligan.

How proud that appreciation would have made Tange feel as the architect once exclaimed, “We Japanese architects, in our endeavours to resolve the problems facing modern Japan, have devoted a great deal of attention to the Japanese tradition, and have, in the end, arrived at the point which I have sought to elucidate for you. If, however, there can be detected a trace of tradition in my works or in those of my generation, then our creative powers have not been at their best, then we are still in the throes of evolving our creativity. I want, by all means, my buildings to be free of the label ‘traditional.’ ”

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "Video: Yoyogi Olympic Arena / Kenzo Tange" 01 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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