Zaha Hadid Architects

Yesterday, London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) published a 23-minute video (below) and an accompanying 91-page report defending its design for the New National Stadium, which will be used in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the issues the firm has faced in the project's early stages since winning the commission in an international competition in 2012. The firm says it will welcome a new bidding process for the stadium in order to reduce costs and ensure quality, durability, and long-term sustainability. The Japan Sport Council (JSC), overseen by the government, spontaneously dropped ZHA's designs in July shortly after approving them and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has been reviewing ZHA's plans since.​​​​​​

ZHA has released two statements on the project, which the firm claims has been plagued by rising construction costs and the premature appointment of contractors.


ZHA's presentation, produced with Arup Sports, outlines its design conception and rationale, explains the JSC's initial requirements, what it believes went wrong with the contractor procurement process, and the risk of the government starting the project from scratch. "Similar mistakes have been made on previous stadiums and we think the government of Japan should learn from these mistakes to avoid a repeat," writes the firm in its statement, citing the design and build procurement of the 2012 London Olympics stadium as a mistake that Japan should avoid.

Zaha Hadid Architects

Jim Heverin, ZHA director on the project, told ARCHITECT earlier this month that the firm is willing to alter its initial designs to meet the client's requirements and budget. "When you really look at it, we believe that you will see that the current design can be modified, that there’s a lot of expertise and knowledge within it that has been paid for by the Japanese taxpayer, and the best option is to modify the current design to achieve a lower price rather than starting from scratch," he said.

In its presentation, the firm states that is still on board with that plan. Instead of the JSC pursuing a new design, ZHA says the "answer is to introduce more competition between the contractors" in order to "not lose the benefits of the [existing] design." By doing so, the firm says the project can still be completed in time for the 2020 Olympic Games, while the timing is less certain if the JSC begins the design competition anew.​

Check out our Q+A with Jim Heverin, ZHA director on the project here

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Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects