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Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The Latest Architecture and News

Cities are Avoiding Hosting the Olympics. They Shouldn’t.

The apple of every athlete's eye, the Olympic Games direct the gaze of the world onto one host city every two years, showcasing the best that sport has to offer across both summer and winter events. In a haze of feel-good anticipation, the general buzz around the city before during the four week stretch is palpable, with tourists, media and athletes alike generating contributing to the fervour. With almost an almost exclusively positive public response (the majority of Olympic bids are met with 70% approval or higher), the Games become an opportunity for a nation to showcases their culture and all it has to offer. At first glance, it's an opportunity you'd be a fool to miss.

Yet as the dust settles, these ‘lucky’ host cities are often left with structures that lack the relevance and function of their initial, fleeting lives. Empty aquatics centers, derelict running tracks and rarely-used stadiums have become as much a trademark of the Games as the Rings, with the structural maintenance and social implications burdening former hosts for years to come. In recent years, fewer cities have been taking part in the bidding process, suggesting that the impact of the Games is beginning to catch up with the excitement. As many as 12 cities contended for the honor of hosting the 2004 games; only two were put forward for 2024/28.

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Kengo Kuma’s Airbnb Experience to Include Tour of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Five lucky architecture enthusiasts and Airbnb users have been offered the unique experience to accompany Kengo Kuma on a guided tour of the 2020 Olympic stadium in Tokyo. The renowned architect has collaborated with Airbnb to offer the exclusive experience, described as a “visit to Kengo’s under-construction Olympic stadium, along with a meet and greet at his studio and tea with the celebrated architect.”

The July 31st tour, sadly fully booked, offers an insightful example of architects collaborating with leaders of the “gig economy” to offer design experiences directly to the public.

Kengo Kuma’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium Begins Construction

Construction has begun on Kengo Kuma’s design for the Tokyo 2020 National Olympic Stadium, a year after the scheme was selected to replace the original stadium design by Zaha Hadid Architects and three and a half years before the event’s opening ceremony on July 24, 2020.

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. 

JSC Witholds Payment from Zaha Hadid in Exchange for Copyright Release

Zaha Hadid is facing new hurdles regarding her scrapped Tokyo National Stadium design; according to the architect, the Japan Sport Council (JSC) is withholding an overdue payment until ZHA agrees to relinquish ownership of their original designs.

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."

Kengo Kuma Selected to Design New Tokyo National Stadium

Kengo Kuma & Associates have been selected to replace Zaha Hadid Architects to design the new Tokyo National Stadium, the central venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Kuma's design was revealed alongside one other, a design by Toyo Ito, last week, after the original design by Zaha Hadid Architects was scrapped earlier this year. As reported by The Japan Times, Kuma's design narrowly won out against Ito's based on nine selection criteria by the Japan Sport Council, being awarded 610 total points compared to Ito's 602. Responding to concerns about the size and cost of Hadid's design, the new design will be under 50 meters tall and cost an estimated ¥153 billion, compared with the 70 meters and ¥252 billion of Hadid's controversial plans.

Japan Sport Council Unveils Two Shortlisted Designs For New Tokyo National Stadium

The Japan Sport Council has unveiled images of two designs now in the running for the new Tokyo National Stadium, the city's headline venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Named simply "A" and "B," with no hints yet as to who the architects might be, the designs replace a proposal by Zaha Hadid Architects that was controversially scrapped in July after fears about cost increases from the government and a petition against the design from prominent Japanese architects.

According to The Japan Times, the two new designs were both designed by Japanese architects. Both feature wood prominently in their design, something which prompted Japanese architect and critic Takashi Moriyama to tell the newspaper "I think the idea of using wood in large structures may globally impact architecture."

Zaha Hadid Backs Down From Second Tokyo Olympic Stadium Bid

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.

Zaha Hadid Architects Release Video Presentation and Report on New National Stadium in Tokyo

Update: On September 1st, the Japan Sport Council launched a new competition to find another design for Japan’s New National Stadium - this time for a design and build project with more stringent cost restrictions. Today, contractor Nikken Sekkei and Zaha Hadid Architects have confirmed that they will be re-entering the contest together, bringing forward work from their original design. “Our firm is certain that retaining the team of Design Supervisor and designers will deliver the best National Stadium, and we have invited Zaha Hadid Architects to join the design team” said Nikken Sekkei in a statement. “Applying this knowledge and experience of the project, this team can further develop the design to the new brief as a cost-effective proposal to realize the world’s best National Stadium.” The article below was originally published on August 26th.

In mid-July, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe declared that ZHA's design for a New National stadium would not be completed and that plans for the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium would "start from zero." In response Zaha Hadid Architects has just issued a press release and a link to a 23-minute video presentation. The video, ZHA explains, "outline[s] in detail the unique design for the New National Stadium which has been developed over two years to be the most compact and efficient stadium for this very special location in Tokyo. Zaha Hadid Architects welcomes a new contractor bidding process for the New National Stadium to reduce costs and ensure value for money in terms of quality, durability and long-term sustainability."

Watch the video - or if you haven't got 23 minutes, read our synopsis - after the break.

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Some Thoughts on Zaha Hadid Architects' Campaign to Win Back the Tokyo Stadium Commission

Zaha Hadid Architects are no longer the architects of the New National Stadium, Tokyo's headline venue for the 2020 Olympic Games. You probably already knew - ZHA have been making quite a fuss about it, with a 1,400-word statement released last month and a 23-minute video released yesterday, both arguing that scrapping their design is a bad idea.

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?

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Richard Rogers Speaks Out Against Japan's Decision to Scrap Zaha Hadid Stadium

Last month, Japan officially scrapped plans for the controversial Zaha Hadid Architects-designed National Stadium that was intended to be the centerpiece of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Since the decision, ZHA released a statement that denied responsibility for the project's ballooning costs, saying the Japan Sport Council (JSC) has been approving the project's design and budget "at every stage."

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."

Read on for Roger's full statement:

NYT Style Magazine Explores the Cultural Reasons Behind the Demolition of Japan's Hotel Okura

About a year ago, it was announced that Hotel Okura, one of Tokyo’s best-known modernist landmarks, was headed for demolition. With the impending demolition date of the hotel, deemed a “beautiful orphan child,” set for this September, an article from T: The New York Times Style Magazine’s upcoming Women’s Fashion issue looks at Japan's "ambivalent — and unsentimental — relationship with its Modernist architecture."

Zaha Hadid's Designs for the Tokyo National Stadium to be Scrapped

Following the news in 2012 that Zaha Hadid Architects had won a competition to design the 80,000-seat Tokyo National Stadium as a centerpiece for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan’s Prime Minister has announced that the plans are to be scrapped. Citing spiralling costs as a key reason, Shinzo Abe has declared that the stadium, which was set to replace the existing Kasumigaoka National Stadium, would not be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup nor the 2020 Olympic Games as originally planned.

Kengo Kuma, SANAA and Nikken Design New Shibuya Skyscraper

Tokyu Corporation has unveiled a new skyscraper planned will rise adjacent to Tokyo's Shibuya Station. A collaborative design by Japanese firms Kengo Kuma, SANAA and Nikken, the 230-meter mixed use tower will feature an unprecedented, 3,000-square-meter public sky deck that promises "views of Mt. Fuji" (on a clear day).

The Shibuya tower is planned to open in 2019, a year before the Tokyo Olympics.

Japan Stands Behind Plans to Build Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Stadium

Despite harsh criticism for being too large and costly, Tokyo's 2020 Zaha Hadid-designed National Stadium will be realized. As USA Today reports, the Japanese government has announced its decision to move forward with the design, saying any major modifications would lead to construction delays.

The 80,000-seat stadium has already undergone some design changes, due to backlash led by Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki; it's most recent design is said to be more "efficient, user-focussed, adaptable and sustainable." However controversy continues as the city and central government must now decide how to split the stadium's estimated $2 billion bill.

Toshiko Mori Calls Tokyo's At-Risk Hotel Okura "A Very Beautiful Orphan Child"

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With the planned demolition of Hotel Okura in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games fast approaching, architects and designers have rallied around the Modernist icon, calling for its preservation. In the latest and most high profile campaign, Japanese architect Toshiko Mori and Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier have joined forces to span a breadth of platforms from a symposium held last November to an Instagram hashtag (#mymomentatokura) sharing images of the beloved hotel. Most recently, Mori sat down with Architectural Digest to discuss her passion for Hotel Okura, the origins of the campaign, and Japanese Modernism. Read the full interview and see why Mori says Hotel Okura is "a very beautiful orphan child," here.

Save Japan’s Modern Architecture

As preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics escalate, so do concerns regarding the preservation of the city’s heritage; and more specifically, according to Tomas Maier, Japan’s modernist architecture. The Bottega Venneta creative director recently embarked on an “urgent visit” to Japan in an effort to evaluate the city’s risk of loosing its modernist icons. With special consideration for the overlooked and threatened Hotel Okura, Maier believes that this Yoshiro Taniguchi-designed landmark is just one of many structures at risk of falling to "progress.”

Watch the video above and learn more about how you can help preserve the Hotel Okura, here.

Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki Petition Against Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Though it seemed a compromise was met last October, when Japan’s minister of education, Hakubun Shimomura announced plans to reduce the cost and scale of the Zaha Hadid-designed Tokyo Olympic Stadium, the debate rages on.

Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have launched an online petition to “defend the ginko tree-lined landscape of blue sky and Jingu Outer Gardens” from the construction of Hadid’s “oversized” stadium.

The petition (now with more than 13,000 signatures) urges the Japan Sports Council, who hand selected Hadid’s winning design alongside Tadao Ando, to reconsider upgrading the existing Meiji Jingo Gaien Stadium and the gardens surrounding it. This solution, they believe, is a more affordable and sustainable alternative that would prevent the relocation of nearby residents.

Take a tour though Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic Stadium and share your thoughts about the design (and petition), after the break...