The Fight Over Tokyo's Olympic Stadium is Getting Really Ugly 

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

It is somewhat well-known by now that Japanese architects (and public) are not fans of Zaha Hadid's massive Olympic stadium; they've been protesting the design for a year. But last month things rapidly escalated when a whole slew of new insults emerged, and now, Hadid has responded. It's grim.

If you're just tuning in, here's a little synopsis: British architect Hadid, 64, was chosen to build the new National Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics based on a design that a group of high-profile Japanese architects quickly criticised as too big, too expensive, and offensively ill-designed. Protests against the chosen design have escalated to include hundreds of members of the public, and eventually, an altered design was announced that would cut down on the exorbitant cost of the proposed design, which was originally 300bn yen (£1.8bn) to a more manageable 169bn yen (£970m) .

In November, some of critics spoke tothe Guardian about their qualms. Here are a few notable quotes included in the post from critics and architects of the design:

  • "A monumental mistake."
  • "A disgrace to future generations."
  • "I'm saying it's just ridiculous [...] We are raising our voices, but they don't listen. We are not a civil society where citizen voices can be critical."
  • "Like a turtle waiting for Japan to sink so that it can swim away"
  • "The sight left me in despair. If the stadium gets built the way it is, Tokyo will surely be burdened with a gigantic white elephant."

This week, Hadid struck back. In an interview with Dezeen, calling them hypocrites and hinting that their derision is based on xenophobia:

"They don't want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium. On the other hand, they all have work abroad. Whether it's Sejima, Toyo Ito, or Maki or Isozaki or Kengo Kuma.

"The fact that they lost is their problem, they lost the competition. If they are against the idea of doing a stadium on that site, I don't think they should have entered the competition."

"It saddens me. What can I do? They're going ahead with it irrespective."

It's not exactly the most flattering set of statements — from either side — and it's almost definitely not the last we'll hear about feud. [Dezeen; The Guardian]