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Tokyo selects Japanese design for Olympic stadium after row

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2015,16:19 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Tokyo | Japan today chose a new, slimmed down 2020 Olympic Stadium design, after an earlier version set off a row over a USD 2.0 billion price tag that would have made it the world’s most expensive sports venue.

The country’s preparations for the global games suffered a humiliating setback this year when the government pulled the plug on the original stadium plan by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid following spiralling costs and complaints over the design.

Two new construction plans -both by Japanese architects and with sharply lower cost estimates -were released last week by the Japan Sport Council, which is overseeing the project.

After deliberations, the JSC chose the slightly cheaper of the two, a joint venture involving renowned architect Kengo Kuma with an estimated cost of approximately 149.0 billion yen (USD 1.2 billion).

I think this is a wonderful plan that meets criteria such as basic principles, construction period and cost, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a special cabinet meeting on the design. The winning plan, which beat out one involving Pritzker

Architecture Prize-winning Japanese architect Toyo Ito, is far below the price estimated under the now-ditched design by Hadid. Besides cost, her plan also drew complaints over aesthetics.

Under the new plan construction is to be completed in November 2019, ahead of the January 2020 deadline demanded by the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo is due to host the opening ceremony on July 24 that year. I am feeling the weight of the awesome responsibility, Kuma told private broadcaster Nippon TV right after the announcement. The new plan aims to create Japanese tradition by using steel frames and wood with a concept of a stadium of trees and green, according to documents submitted to the JSC.

It will have a height of 49.2 metres (162 feet), lower than the original design of 70 metres, which was criticised as too high and for being a potential eyesore on Tokyo’s skyline.

Characteristics for the new plan, which calls for five floors above ground and two below, involve placing greenery on stadium decks to shut out Tokyo’s scorching summer sunshine. Seating capacity will be about 68,000.

The other proposal, at 54.3 metres, also featured a traditional Japanese touch in the use of 72 wooden columns, but planned three floors above ground and two below.

Abe shocked Olympic organisers in July when he pulled the plug on Hadid’s futuristic design as soaring costs put it on course to become the world’s most expensive sports stadium.