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Zaha's Revised Tokyo Stadium Deemed a 'Monumental Mistake'

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The Guardian's Oliver Wainwright reports that Zaha Hadid's Tokyo stadium may have just received its "fiercest public attack yet," which is saying something, considering the two years of fierce criticism the project has been hounded by. Shortly after it was unveiled, a group of high-profile Japanese architects (led by Fumihiko Maki, who was joined by Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma, and Sou Fujimoto) banded together to protest the stadium's size and cost, prompting Hadid's firm to announce a suite of changes aimed at downsizing the $3B budget. In an open letter to the Japan Sports Council, architect Arata Isozaki now contends that the revisions haven't helped, railing against the "distorted" process that brought about "a dull, slow form, like a turtle waiting for Japan to sink so that it can swim away."

The sight of the revised scheme left him "in despair," he writes, calling it a "monumental mistake" that will be a "disgrace to future generations," burdening Tokyo with a "gigantic white elephant." Wainwright points out that Zaha's arena is still more expensive than any other recent Olympic stadium, "standing at twice the size of the London Olympic stadium, despite holding the same number of seats." The project's critics contend that its flaunting of the area's 15-meter height limit means it will dwarf the nearby 1964 Olympic national stadium and ruin the historic outer gardens of the Meiji Shrine.

In response, Zaha's firm has said that "all projects around the world go through this process of design evolution. The stadium's scheme design has been developed with our Japanese partners and responds to the revised brief issued by the client earlier this year." They also mention that after the 2020 Olympics, it will be used for "the widest variety of sporting, cultural and community events" without the need for changes.

The petitioners have championed an alternative plan, designed by Toyo Ito, to adapt the existing national stadium. Meanwhile, Isozaki wishes Hadid would return to the drawing board to come up with something new for the revised brief, to bring back the "dynamism" of her original design, avoiding the dreaded congestion of design by committee and saving the Olympic organizers of "falling into a trap of their own making." And if the opening ceremony was held elsewhere, it would not only free Hadid up to design something less offensive, but "create a new format for the Olympics of the 21st century, here in Tokyo."

· Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Olympic stadium slammed as a 'monumental mistake' and a 'disgrace to future generations' [The Guardian]