National

Athletes Village buildings for Tokyo Olympics draw on traditional Japanese woodwork

by Ryusei Takahashi

Staff Writer

The Village Plaza, which will serve as a key facility within the Athletes Village during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, was unveiled Wednesday ahead of its planned completion in April.

The wood used to build the structure was donated by 63 municipalities across the country. Located in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, it will also serve as the venue for events to welcome the teams leading up to the opening ceremony in July.

Inside, the fragrant aroma of cedar and cypress emanates from the smooth walls and helical pillars of the facility. The pillars, each made of three pieces of lumber, hold up a thin steel roof cooled by a layer of bamboo, above, and cold water flowing through pipes in the structure.

Inscribed on almost all of the nearly 1,300 cubic meters of lumber is the name of the village, town, city or prefecture from where it was donated.

“The structure draws on the Japanese tradition of building with wood,” said a spokesperson for the Tokyo Organising Committee for the games.

Construction work will continue until sometime in April, although organizers said the exterior and main structure are finished.

“Even though construction is nearly complete, much of this structure will be left bare and exposed,” said Tokyo Games organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon attended by representatives of the 63 municipalities that donated wood. “We want you to be able to see how and where the wood you donated is being used. I believe the end result was worth the effort.”

The Village Plaza cost about ¥24 billion to build and consists of five wood-framed complexes. Facilities within include a media center for members of the press, an internet lounge and a hair salon, as well as an ATM machine, a dry cleaning service and a post office.

While the plaza will not be open to the public, organizers estimate that some 2,000 guests, mainly athletes and members of the media, will use it daily.

After the 2020 Games are over, the buildings will be dismantled and the wood will be returned to the municipalities from where it came, to satisfy sustainability targets for the event.

Organizers said how the wood is used thereafter will be decided by the municipalities themselves. Some have already disclosed plans to use it to make park benches, or furniture for local schools.

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