The revised proposal by Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects The revised proposal by Zaha Hadid Architects

Today, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) issued comments regarding a meeting between Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, Hon. FAIA, an outspoken critic of the London-based firm's design of the New National Stadium in Tokyo, and Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo. Japan spontaneously cancelled the ZHA's designs for the Olympic stadium last month due to rising construction costs and public environmental concerns shortly after approving them. 

The firm has blamed early appointment of contractors and rising construction costs as the cause of the project's troubles and has pledged that throughout the process it has been (and still is) willing to modify its plans to reduce costs. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is currently reviewing ZHA's design. "We remain optimistic that the option is still there [to modify the firm's approved plan,]" said ZHA's director of the project, Jim Heverin, in a conversation with ARCHITECT. Heverin also stated that criticisms of the project were misguided by inaccurate reporting in the media and Maki's focus on the size of the stadium.

Zaha Hadid Architects

Today's statement reveals further insight into the criticisms that caused the cancellation of the project.

Below is the full press release published by ZHA: 

Following Olympic Minister Endo’s meeting with Mr. Maki, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) note the ideas for the new National Stadium discussed at the meeting do not address the fundamental requirements that will deliver a cost-effective and sustainable National Stadium that guarantees completion on schedule. As the selected stadium designer, ZHA have considerable knowledge and experience of the project and site to offer new practical solutions.  

Mr. Maki’s ideas simply address his desire for a smaller scale building on the site. ZHA together with our Japanese partners evaluated and proposed a smaller stadium with temporary seating at an early stage of the design development in 2013. However, this option did not meet the client’s requirements for a permanent 80,000 seat capacity National Stadium. These requirements are driven by the Stadium’s detailed business plan beyond 2020 and calculated by experts from forecast annual revenue of the Stadium, in conjunction with the requirements of key future-users such as the J-League. The Stadium’s long term business plan has always dictated the permanent seating capacity of 80,000—and this has been the basis of the design. The current design with 80,000 seats has been approved in detail by Tokyo’s authorities in all aspects of safety and security for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and beyond 2020. The original designers are well equipped to make changes according to a revised brief, for example reducing the permanent capacity of the Stadium, and are best placed to advise on how this would affect the ability to host national and international competitions, such as the football World Cup. This would make use of the investment in time, effort and resources by the Government and people of Japan into the existing team over the past two years and enable the Stadium to be completed to its original schedule in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.               

We have written to Prime Minister Abe and await his response.