Kengo Kuma selected to design National Stadium for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Japan chose between projects from Japanese architects Kuma and Toyo Ito. The decision has been met with claims of favoritism, particularly by the stadium’s original designer, Zaha Hadid.

December 23, 2015 |
Kengo Kuma selected to design National Stadium for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Rendering via Japan Sports Council (via Dezeen).

Japan continues to move forward with the building of a National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

A wooden lattice design from architect Kengo Kuma was named the winner of the National Stadium design competition, held by the country after moving on from Zaha Hadid in July. Last week, it was reported that the competition was down to two finalists, Kuma and fellow Japanese contemporary architect Toyo Ito. 

Kuma’s design features an oval stadium with rings of trees and exposed terraces. The wood and steel roof resembles traditional Japanese architecture. 


Rendering via Japan Sports Council (via Dezeen).


While the plans are intriguing enough, one of the main considerations of the design is simplicity. Zaha Hadid’s plan was scrapped because of how costly and ornate it was; Kuma’s is more orthodox, and more likely to not exceed the ¥153 billion ($1.27 billion) budget for construction, design and other work. Japan has a little more than four years to finalize, build, and complete Kuma’s design.

The general rumblings are that Japan wanted a Japanese firm to design the stadium. Hadid released a statement on Tuesday addressing that notion and the Kuma selection. 

“We were honored to be selected to design a stadium that would enable Japan to welcome the world for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and bring the 2020 Olympic games to Tokyo, before becoming a new home for Japanese sport for many future generations,” Hadid said. “Sadly the Japanese authorities, with the support of some of those from our own profession in Japan, have colluded to close the doors on the project to the world.

“This shocking treatment of an international design and engineering team, as well as the respected Japanese design companies with whom we worked, was not about design or budget. In fact much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today."


Zaha Hadid's National Stadium concept. Rendering via Japan Sports Council

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