Tokyo Unveils New Olympic Stadium Design – Old One Was Scrapped For Being Pricey?

Japan unveiled a new stadium design meant for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The country had to go for a new design amidst criticism for the earlier one that would have been very expensive to construct. This compelled Japan to come up with a new design within five months of scrapping the old one.

Japan’s government announced a slimmed-down Olympic Stadium for Tokyo’s 2020 Games. The previously finalized design had a lofty price tag of 252 billion yen ($2.1 billion), which came under heavy criticism. This forced the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to scrap the design. The design was the brainchild of star architect Zaha Hadid. Additionally there were persistent claims that the logo design for the 2020 games was plagiarized.

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, will still cost 153 billion yen ($1.26 billion) to design, build and maintain, reported Yahoo. That’s half of what the earlier design would have cost. If the previous design would have been constructed, it would have been the most expensive stadium ever built.

The new design replaces the dramatic but hard-to-build arches envisioned by Ms. Hadid, with a lower-key look and wooden materials, reported The Wall Street Journal. Kuma has artistically combined steel and wood in his design. It features a relatively flatter roof. The stadium will feature a lot of shrubbery along its outer concourses. Once built, it will stand 50 meters (164 feet) tall, reported Arab Times.

Tokyo Unveils New Olympic Stadium Design
(Photo by Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

Interestingly, Kuma has incorporated space for the track and field events below ground level, ensuring maximum utilization of the available ground on which the Olympic stadium will stand. Architect Kengo Kuma’s design, chosen from two finalists, appears amply inspired by traditional Japanese temples and would have many trees and other forms of greenery, minimizing the impact of the structure on the environment, explained Mr. Kuma:

“I drew inspiration from Horyuji, a Japanese temple complex that has wooden buildings more than a millennium old, in designing the stadium. When you look from ground level, you see eaves made of wood layered one upon the other. This motif is what you see when you look up at the five-storied pagoda of Horyuji.”

Taisei Corp., the contractor backing Kuma’s design has assured that it can finish the building by November 2019. Though the self-set construction deadline is cutting it very close to the games, which are scheduled to begin in 2020, the contractor confirmed the stadium will not just confirm to the government’s much-debated budget requirement, but with diligent planning and urban construction techniques, the company could save a lot of government’s money by making the stadium with lesser money than allocated.

(Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

As expected, Japan Sport Council, which evaluated the two designs and made a recommendation that was approved by Mr. Abe’s government, has praised Taisei Corp. for meeting the targets. While unveiling the new stadium design, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said,

“This is a wonderful plan which meets the basic vision in the new construction plan and requirements for construction period and the budget.”

The new design has been envisioned and drawn with less than five years to go for the stadium to be completely built and fitted with the infrastructure that’s fit for the Olympics. Scrapping of the design and such tight deadlines caused multiple issues, including a last minute change of venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Many are concerned if the new design will be completed in time for the Olympics. Additionally, the previous design’s creator, Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid expressed her shock about the rejection, reported Yahoo. She claimed the committee not just dismissed her cost-saving suggestions, but scrapped her design that could have been altered to accommodate the suggestions.

The choice of the new design was inspired by two primary reasons, explained Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. While the cost remains a primary concern with the previous design that the new one has addressed, Japan intends to put the stadium to good use after it serves its primary purpose.

[Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images]