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Japanese Architects Petition Against Zaha Hadid’s Olympic Stadium in Tokyo

An online petition hopes to save Tokyo's existing stadium and gardens, which are slated for demolition soon.

From its inception, architect Zaha Hadid’s design for the 2020 Olympic Stadium in Tokyo was met with controversy. Tokyo-based architect Toyo Ito and Pritzker Prize-winning Fumihiko Maki have since organized an online petition to halt the construction of the new sports arena.* They propose, instead, saving the city’s existing Meiji Jingu Gaien Stadium, which is scheduled to be demolished in July to make way for the new project.

The architects are arguing that the proposed stadium, which will be as tall as a 20-story skyscraper when complete, will be totally out of scale to its location and will ruin the Meiji Shrine Outer Gardens, while forcing residents of the nearby Kasumigaoka Public Housing facility to relocate. The petition also states that the 130 billion yen price tag will divert resources from the relief efforts of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Hence, the petition calls for a "more greener and democratic" alternative. Rather than spend taxpayer money on a new stadium, Ito and other architects propose renovating the existing one.

It’s not everyday that architects petition against another architect's design in this way, (though feuding among architects is not entirely unheard of.) At the time of this writing, the petition had over 14,000 signatures. But Hadid’s design does have its supporters: architect Tadao Ando helped to select the design over 10 other finalists.

For more information on the petition, visit

[H/T to designboom]

[*A previous version of this story made it sound as though the petition had just launched, when in fact, it's been active for several months.]

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  • Sam Doohicky

    I can see their point, but I think anyone would be fortunate to have a building designed by Hadid in their city. Yes, it's large and the scale is at odds with the surrounding landscape. However, it is the olympics and that means 50-80 thousands fans under one roof. The event itself dictates such a large scale.

    The design is rather thoughtful, I think, blending into the landscape without trying to be obtuse about it. It is a rather dramatic contrast to the existing architecture and urban design. I like the Gyro Bike Helmet shape of it. It rather looks like a spaceship has landed in the middle of the city.

    Cost and culture are real considerations for the Japanese, but it's a little late for making those considerations. Buyer's remorse, perhaps? To be ready for the 2020 Olympics, they need to get going on this. The time for debate is over, now they must realize their plan. I think they will find an appreciation for it more and more as time goes by.


    I am an architect from Japan and like many other architects, I am deeply concerned about the design of the proposed new Olympic stadium. Aside from its gigantic form that does not seem to represent the proud culture and heritage of Japan, the proposed site has been part of historical Jingu outer garden offered by Emperor for the public use and one of the most important Western style open spaces in Japan. It is one few places where people can enjoy a natural environment with numerous health, social and environmental benefits. Building this stadium not only destroys this green heritage with it's many pricesless benefits, it also destroys the traditional local skyline that many Japanese architects have honoured for many decades. I need to make it clear that I am not against Hadid design but it could have been more appreciated if built elsewhere.

  • this is exactly the problem we face. Fantasized rhetoric about aesthetic but nothing on the reality of design or planning decisions. "anyone would be fortunate" - are you seriously asking residents to appreciate a piece of architecture which forces them out of their homes, relocates them and diverts funds from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl?

    Cost and culture are not considerations for the Japanese in this case, they are overshadowed by PR and advertising for inward investment.

  • Sam Doohicky

    Okay, so any 'real' recommendations on how they should handle their obligation to the 2020 Olympics? Should they repurpose the old Meiji Jingu Gaien Stadium?

    First and foremost, architecture should serve the people and those who inhabit the space. I think it should also be uplifting when it can. Anyone can design a box with a door in it, but designers should be able to elevate it beyond such mundane functionality.

    I'm a fan of Zaha Hadid's work and not ashamed to admit that. My comment was simply in support of her vision, not her politics or religion or her choice in cars. I also like fantasy, probably as much as anyone, but I'm not insensitive to the reality of the situation, merely uninformed. I have no insight to the politics and finance of this project. I know the Japanese are a resilient people and will overcome the Fukushima disaster. And both will be around for decades to come. If it's doable, then do it.