Kengo Kuma Denies Copying Zaha Hadid's Tokyo National Stadium Design

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. 

Since the unveiling of Kuma's proposal, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has been concerned about similarities in “the structure, layout and numerous elements” of both designs. In one case, according to The Telegraph, Kuma's design integrates a unique design element that was specially designed in a month-long process by ZHA software that identifies the optimum focal point for the 80,000-seat stadium; Kuma's design is offset just .39 inches from ZHA's original placement, thus causing concern that Kuma borrowed this design element from ZHA's proposal.

ZHA's design. Image © Japan Sport Council

"If you take a look at the designs of Zaha Hadid and of myself you see very different impressions of the building. The reason for this is that in Hadid’s design you see the audience parts separated into two sides which rise up. But in our design we have very much tried to keep it as low as possible," Kuma continued.

"In regards to the actual structure of the stadium, our design utilizes three layers; this ensures that at this scale we can still keep the audience and the athletes close... When we looked at the 11 entries submitted to the competition originally, seven of them were using this three-layer design. It is the most reasonable way to ensure that in a stadium of this capacity the audience and athletes feel as one... Zaha’s design also utilizes these three layers within the stadium structure. When we look at sightlines and calculate the angles automatically it comes up with the most appropriate, so if we consider this then it is quite natural and appropriate that there are similar angles in Hadid’s design and my own."

"One further aspect which is similar is the details of the rows of seats. However, according to Tokyo’s fire prevention acts, this is very much set. Only certain layouts can be permitted within these limitations," says Kuma.

Hadid is currently seeking legal action against the Japan Sports Council (JSC) for withholding payment until ZHA signs a copyright release.

News via AJ and The Telegraph

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Kengo Kuma Denies Copying Zaha Hadid's Tokyo National Stadium Design" 19 Jan 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Kengo Kuma's design. Image © Japan Sport Council


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