In a statement sent to the media this morning, British architect Zaha Hadid accused the Japanese authorities and leading architects involved in selecting the design of the new National Stadium in Toyko of colluding to "close the doors on the project to the world." The just-selected design by Kengo Kuma, one of two reviewed by the National Sports Council last weekend, was called out by the Iraqi-British architect as having similarities to her design.
"This shocking treatment of an international design and engineering team, as well as the respected Japanese design companies with whom we worked, was not about design or budget," the statement continues. "In fact much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today."
Hadid, who won the initial international competition to design the stadium, saw her work criticized by the public and others in her profession, and eventually rejected by authorities in July who claimed construction would be over budget. Hadid has maintained that the estimated cost overruns were due to the bidding process and rising cost of construction in Tokyo. Earlier this month, the Japan Sports Council released two new bids, initially kept anonymous but widely believed to be the work of Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma, submitted in concert with leading Japanese construction firms. Construction on Kuma's design, a wood-and-steel structure that has been dubbed "the hamburger" on social media, is expected to cost ¥153 billion ($1.26 billion) and finish in November 2019 (Hadid's initial design was expected to cost roughly $2 billion). As Hadid pointedly notes in her statement, it will be a race to finish before the 2020 Games.
"Work would already be underway building the stadium if the original design team had simply been able to develop this original design, avoiding the increased costs of an 18
month delay and risk that it may not be ready in time for the 2020 Games."