Japan picks new Olympic stadium design to cut costs

Japan chooses new stadium design for 2020 Summer Olympics after cost estimates for original design soar

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Proposed new national stadium "Design A" is seen in this undated handout picture released by Japan Sports Council and obtained by Reuters December 21, 2015.

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma on Tuesday won a competition to design the centerpiece stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, after ballooning costs forced the futuristic original plan to be scrapped.

The winning design submitted by a consortium led by Taisei Corp has a price tag of 149 billion yen ($1.23 billion), against an estimated $2.1 billion for the controversial concept by Zaha Hadid which was abandoned in July.

Kuma is known for blending traditional Japanese style with modern elements, and his design for the New National Stadium incorporates wood and layers of eaves.

"I think the design chosen meets the conditions sought, such as basic concept, construction and cost," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said as he announced the winner.

"I want every effort to be made so the new stadium incorporates the world's best barrier-free [facilities] and 'Japanese-ness', and is a stadium that excites the people of the world and a legacy of which the next generation can be proud."

Another design by architect Toyo Ito and submitted by Takenaka Corp, Shimizu Corp and Obayashi Corp would have cost 149.7 billion yen.

Both designs were simpler than Hadid's idea, which critics derided as reminiscent of a bicycle helmet or drooping raw oyster and out of sync with the neighbourhood.

The winning design - which some critics have likened to a stack of pancakes - will stand 20 metres (22 yards) lower than the scrapped concept. It will incorporate wood - a traditional Japanese building material - into the roofing in an effort to blend with the leafy surrounds.

Construction is scheduled for completion in November 2019, two months ahead of an International Olympic Committee deadline of January 2020. The Olympic Games are slated to start in July.

The stadium will have capacity for 68,000 spectators, which can be raised to 80,000 to host World Cup soccer finals.