Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just pulled the plug on Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic stadium due to escalating costs. The government’s latest estimates put the stadium at $2.1 billion—a cost that was subject to rise and would have made it the most expensive stadium ever built. “We have decided to go back to the start on the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium plan, and start over from zero,” Abe told reporters today.
Although cost has been a major difficulty, Hadid’s Olympic stadium design has been mired in controversy since its unveiling two-and-a-half years ago. The original design was heavily criticized by a group of Japanese architects—which included the likes of Fumihiko Maki, Toyo Ito, Sou Fujimoto, and Kengo Kuma—and, after much resistance, the government eventually asked Hadid to redesign the proposal and scale it down. Despite the revision, many architects and citizens were still unhappy with the stadium design, with some likening it to a bicycle helmet or toilet. In response to the criticisms, Hadid told Dezeen that she believed Japanese critics were motivated by not wanting a foreigner to build in Tokyo.
Hadid’s proposal for the new 80,000-seat stadium would have replaced the old, 50,000-seat National Stadium and forced the demolition of a public housing project. The extravagant project is believed to have negatively affected approval ratings for the Prime Minister’s cabinet, especially when the stadium’s estimated construction cost was announced to have doubled from its original $1 billion estimate.
Related: Japanese Architects Protest Against Zaha Hadid’s Enormous Olympic Stadium
Since the government is scrapping its plans so late in the game, the country will no longer be able to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup as promised. The decision may also damage Japan’s international reputation. According to Japan Times, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced that the government plans to host an international competition that combines the design and construction and will set a cap on the total construction cost.
Via The Guardian