The spaceship-like stadium was designed by Zaha Hadid, who also
designed the aquatics center for the 2012 London Olympics, but the
plans came under fire soon after Tokyo won the Games last year for
ballooning cost estimates and a lack of harmony with the surrounding
This week, the Japan Sports Council released a new design proposal
reducing the size of the stadium by more than 20 percent and cutting
costs from some 300 billion yen ($2.95 billion), more than twice the
original bid estimate, to roughly 162 billion yen.
But Edward Suzuki, a Tokyo-based architect, says the new proposal is
still flawed, especially given the number of trees that will have to
be cut in one of the city's rare green areas.
"I've never felt so emotional about any kind of architecture up
until now," Suzuki told Reuters on Friday, a day before an event to
bid the current National Stadium farewell ahead of its July
"But it's happening in my garden, in our garden ... We just can't
let it happen. It's a sin, it's a crime."
The National Stadium was built for Tokyo's first Summer Olympics, in
1964. The new stadium, set to have 80,000 seats - up from 54,000 at
present - will be completed in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
The new proposal shrinks the overall space of the stadium to about
222,600 square meters, including competitive spaces such as the
pitch, from 290,000 square meters, mainly by downsizing areas used
for things like media facilities and display rooms.
The height of the stadium at its tallest point will be cut from 75
meters to 70 meters, but Suzuki said this is still too tall for the
surrounding area, which includes a long avenue of trees and the
Meiji Shrine, a noted tourist attraction.
"It's so overpowering, it's not a human scale. It's going to replace
all the trees that had once been there," Suzuki said. "It was a
park. Now it's just going to be a very man-made object that is not
really beautiful to look at."
His petition drive has gained 1,400 signatures in three weeks - 800
of them in the last three days.
Suzuki argues that the existing stadium should be remodeled to
expand seating capacity. Extensions could be removed once the Games
are over and the stadium demolished then.
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The Japan Sport Council says the stadium needs a roof so it can be
used for concerts after the Games, though critics say this may not
be practical given Japan's falling population.
"We're paying our taxes and spending our savings for the next
generation," Suzuki said. "I'm sure they're going to be stuck with
this debt and this non-sustainable facility, they're going to be
blaming us when we are in our graves."
The Japan Sport Council was not available for comment.
To add insult to injury, the new proposal would destroy the flowing
lines and dynamism of Hadid's original.
"I'm sure Hadid's office was involved, but I'm sure Zaha Hadid is
not happy with the outcome," he added. "It's not her design anymore,
it's sort of a bad imitation of her original."
($1 = 101.5450 Japanese Yen)
(Writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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