British architect to design Japan’s new national stadium

Zaha Hadid, best known in the UK for designing the London 2012 Aquatics Centre, the architectural centrepiece of this year’s Olympic games, has taken first place in a competition to design the new Tokyo National Stadium in Japan.

The ‘bike helmet-style’ design will replace the current 54,000-seater designed by Mitsuo Katayama, which served as the main venue for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The new stadium will seat 80,000 and meets design criteria set out by the committee that it have adjustable seating and a retractable roof. Judges also said that entries should establish a dialogue with their physical surroundings, particularly the Meiji Shrine.

The stadium is scheduled for completion in 2018, and will play host to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as well as forming the centrepiece of the 2020 Summer Olympics should Tokyo’s bid against Madrid and Istanbul be successful. The International Olympic Committee will vote to choose the 2020 Olympic venue in Buenos Aires in September next year.

The choice of Hadid as the architect for the venue may prove controversial however because her firm has a history of overrunning its budget. The London Aquatics Centre was expected to cost £72m but the final figure grew significantly to £270m. The costs of the new Tokyo stadium are estimated at 130bn yen (£1.02bn), which, if fully utilised, will make it the world’s most expensive venue at current exchange rates. The most expensive existing venue in the world is currently the New Meadowlands Stadium in the US.

Hadid was awarded 20m yen (£157,431) in prize money for her design, though it is thought that the prestige associated with winning in such an important race will be most important to the designer. She beat a number of well known firms to first place, including Populous, designers of Wembley Stadium and the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.

Sources include: The Guardian, Japan Today

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