National

Critics say Olympic stadium is too big

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A famed Japanese architect’s criticism of the futuristic-looking national stadium planned for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is being shared by an increasing number of people who say it’s too big and doesn’t match the surrounding environment.

In the August issue of an architecture journal, Pritzker Prize laureate Fumihiko Maki wrote that the 70-meter-high stadium with total floor space of 290,000 sq. meters is too big for the 11-hectare site in Jingu Gaien Park, which is designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for landscape preservation.

It will be built on the same site as the current, smaller stadium used for the 1964 Olympics.

“Intuition tells me it is a complete mismatch” to build a huge facility on a modest-size site, Maki said in a following interview in the Japan Institute of Architects Magazine.

The planned stadium, featuring a retractable roof, was designed by Briton Zaha Hadid, who won the competition in November. It is to have 80,000 seats, 26,000 more than the current National Stadium, and is slated for completion in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

The gross floor space of the new stadium, possibly including a museum, library and commercial facilities, is about 5.6 times more than the current stadium, which is to be demolished starting in July.

The floor space is also three times larger than that of the main stadium for the 2012 London Olympics, but the site is 30 percent smaller.

Maki also voiced concerns over the high cost of maintaining the ¥130 billion stadium in a nation that faces a dwindling birthrate and aging population.

The 85-year-old architect expressed hope that the stadium plan will be reviewed and that his essay will help raise attention on the issue.

Prompted by the essay, a group of volunteers held a symposium Oct. 11 to discuss possible revisions.

Panelists agreed that a gigantic facility won’t match the landscape of the historic Jingu Gaien area and further discussions are necessary before breaking ground.

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