Facing Protests, Zaha Hadid Revises Design For Tokyo's 2020 Olympic Stadium

For once, critics move the architect to action

Architect Zaha Hadid is not known for designs that seamlessly weave themselves into the fabric of the communities that surround them. Instead, her defiant silhouettes have mirrored a defiant attitude toward critics who have shaken their fists at her perceived complicity in forced evictions, treacherous working conditions, and monopolization of public resources.

Now, her eponymous architecture firm is finally bowing to pressure in the wake of protests staged over the weekend at the site of her planned design for the 2020 Olympics stadium in Tokyo. Five hundred people took to the streets on Saturday, hand in hand, to voice their displeasure with the $1.7 billion project, which will displace public housing residents and dwarf Kenzo Tange's landmark 1964 Olympic stadium. This followed an online petition, started by the high-profile architects Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki, to halt the construction of the arena.

"The new stadium design was outsized and an infringement," Karen Severns, an independent architectural scholar who joined the protest, told the Japan Times.

"I hope that this protest is successful in shrinking the design to fit the context," architect Sou Fujimoto, also at the protest, told the Architects’ Journal. "I'm not fighting Zaha. The competition for the stadium was very rigorous and we can't overturn everything. But the design could be better."

Hadid is conceding the point. A firm spokesperson says Hadid will be editing the design in order to "optimise the investment and make the stadium even more efficient, user-focused, adaptable, and sustainable."

But so far, details are scarce—and the stadium’s size and location remain unchanged. "Its scale is a direct correlation to the project brief's seating capacity of 80,000," the firm said.

The stadium, set for completion in 2018, will host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as a variety of athletic events.

[H/T Dezeen]

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  • Sam Doohicky

    Once again mediocrity rules supreme. They sound like a bunch of whiny , petulant children. I say build the stadium and transplant the PH residents to beautiful apartments overlooking the new Olympic grounds. The city planners should have done their homework before awarding the contract to anyone. If I were Hadid, I'd say "sayonara motherf_ckers"!

  • Sher Salt

    Good luck trying to squeeze 80K fans into a smaller footprint. Do the Japanese understand what the olympics is?

  • charlesgarrettborden

    If any realm of architecture can capitalize on fitting a surprising amount of people and space into a small footprint, its the Japanese. I think many of the residents of Tokyo are seeing the injustices happening in Brazil for the World Cup and simply don't want any of that, starchitect or not.

    I agree with Sam though, if public housing residents do need to be moved, it should be an inarguable upgrade from their current situation. A greater emphasis on sustainability is always appreciated and actually I would've loved to see Fujimoto design the stadium.