Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has issued a statement to “set the record straight” over accusations that its design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium led to spiralling construction costs, and has offered to revise the plans to make sure it is completed in time for the games.
Hadid’s design has faced harsh opposition from a group of high-profile Japanese architects, who the British-Iraqi architect labelled as “hypocrites” in an interview with Dezeen.
Selected from 46 entries to an international competition in 2012, the design had already been scaled-back from initial proposals following a budget cut in 2014.
The stadium was to host events during both the Japan 2018 Rugby World Cup, and Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which unveiled its official logos last week.
Read the full statement from Zaha Hadid Architects:
New National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan
Our teams in Japan and the UK feel it is necessary to set the record straight on the Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) design for the new National Stadium for Japan, which has been developed to the client’s brief and budget. It is also only right that the Japanese people are fully aware of the reasons for the reported budget increase and, with exactly five years to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games, the risks involved with delaying the design process and start of construction.
In 2012 ZHA was selected by a jury of architects and other experts in an international competition of 46 entries to design a new National Stadium for Japan, which would be ready to welcome the world to Japan for the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Games. We were attracted to the competition by Japan’s vision for a new National Stadium that was designed with the flexibility to open with these two great events and go on to host national, international, local and community sport and cultural events for the next 50 to 100 years.
The design was developed by a joint venture of leading Japanese design offices led by Nikken Sekkei, with ZHA supervising the design development. The team dedicated thousands of hours to develop a design for a new National Stadium to the brief, requirements and budget of our client, the Japan Sport Council (JSC). At every stage over the two years of development, the design and budget estimates were approved by the JSC. ZHA worked proactively to reduce the estimated cost throughout.
For the first time in the construction of a public building in Japan, a two-stage tender process was used, in which contractors are appointed before being invited to submit cost estimates. As ZHA has considerable experience in this process we advised the JSC that working to an immovable completion deadline, against a backdrop of rocketing annual increases in the cost of building in Tokyo, and in the absence of any international competition, the early selection of a limited number of construction contractors would not lead to a commercially competitive process.
Our warning was not heeded that selecting contractors too early in a heated construction market and without sufficient competition would lead to an overly high estimate of the cost of construction.
ZHA also proposed to the JSC that, in this uncompetitive context, reductions to the client’s brief for the stadium, architectural specification and contractor costs would achieve a lower construction price. ZHA has always been prepared to work with the JSC to produce a lower cost design at any time. The budget and design was approved by the government on 7 July and there was no subsequent request to design a lower cost stadium.
In response to the high costs quoted by the construction contractors, ZHA and all of the design team worked hard with the JSC to ensure the developing design was delivered to the brief and budget, coming up with many cost-saving initiatives including further changes to the design. We also provided objective guidance on the standard materials and building techniques required to build the Stadium. In our experience the best way to deliver high-quality and cost-effective projects is for the selected designers to work in collaboration with the construction contractor and client as a single team with a single aim. However, we were not permitted to work with the construction contractors, again increasing the risk of unnecessarily high cost estimates and delays in completion.
On 7 July a JSC report to the stadium advisory committee, using figures provided by the appointed construction contractors, incorrectly claimed that the design was responsible for most of the increase in budget. ZHA was not informed in advance of this announcement and we immediately contested this incorrect claim with the JSC. Commentary of the report focused on the steel arches within the design. These arches are not complex and use standard bridge building technology to support the lightweight and strong polymer membrane roof to cover all spectator seats, in addition to supporting the high-specification lighting and services that will enable the Stadium to host many international competitions and events in the future.
The arched roof structure is as efficient as many other major stadia in Japan and the arches allow the roof to be constructed in parallel with the stadium seating bowl, saving crucial construction time in comparison to a roof supported from the seating bowl, which can only be built after the bowl has been completed. The design and engineering teams in Japan confirmed the arches supporting the roof should cost 23 billion yen (less than 10 per cent of the approved budget).
The increase in estimated budget reported by the JSC is in fact due to the inflated costs of construction in Tokyo, a restricted and an uncompetitive approach to appointing construction contractors and a restriction on collaboration between the design team and appointed construction contractors, not the design.
Read the full story on Dezeen.