We recently covered the phenomenon of star architects disowning their projects, but this year’s biggest story in the profession is about defending a design to the death. London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects was hit with an almighty blow last month when their competition-winning proposal for the Tokyo National Stadium — the subject of two years of detailed development — was dropped by the Japanese government, which cited major cost overruns and dissent from several native architects including Toyo Ito.
The firm is not about to give up that easily, though. Following the release of a written statement defending their design, they have now published the above video, a 23-minute salvo that calls for the government to reverse its decision and move forward with ZHA’s proposal. The movie offers an in-depth look at the details of their stadium, emphasizing the benefits of retaining the current concept, both in terms of cost and design integrity.
The firm is staunch in its belief that cost overruns have been caused by an uncompetitive procurement process inherent within major Japanese contracts. ZHA states that it is “not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan sports council. The real challenge for the stadium has been agreeing an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.”
The video also discusses the long-term plans for the building after the Olympic Games, pointing out the flaws within Populous’ design for the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, which requires substantial alterations to convert it from an athletics arena to a stadium dedicated to football. ZHA’s proposal offers an option for temporary stands while also including a number of potential cost-saving proposals including the removal of air conditioning from seating and the omission of the ‘Sky Bridge,’ a public walkway that wraps around the exterior of the stadium.
Should a dramatic turnaround occur, the stadium could still be built in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2019, followed by the Olympics one year later.