Wood latticework, green shrubbery, sunken sports fields and temple-like touches can be seen in the two final design proposals for Tokyo’s controversial new Olympic Stadium.
The two final designs shortlisted by the Japanese government follow its high-profile abandonment of its commission from Zaha Hadid, the British born architect, following protests surrounding its costs and size.
Perhaps most significantly, both would cost significantly less than Hadid’s design, with one estimated at £813m (149 billion Yen) and the other at £816m (149.7 billion Yen), compared to the controversial £1.4 billion (265 billion Yen) price tag of the scrapped design.
An artist rendering shows the inside of Design B proposed by one of two groups competing to build the new Tokyo Olympic stadium Photo: Japan Sports Council via AP
The key features that are most likely to have reduced costs in the new proposals include lower construction heights and the expansive use of natural woods, in contrast to the futuristic and costly keel arches designed for roof support in Hadid’s design.
The two proposals will now be open to comments from the public and athletes, before being subjected to a jury vote, resulting in the winning design being selected for cabinet approval by the end of the year.
“We will work to ensure a stadium that will be loved by all,” said Kazumi Daito, president of the Sports Council, adding that he would put "athletes first" and also emphasise accessibility for the disabled, elderly and children.
The agency has not named the firms behind the two final designs, although unconfirmed local media reports stated that they were Kengo Kuma and Toyo Ito, two iconic and internationally respected Japanese architects.
An artist rendering shows the inside of Design A proposed by one of two groups competing to build the new Tokyo Olympic stadium Photo: Japan Sports Council via AP
Design A is around 164 ft tall – significantly lower than the 230 ft height of the scrapped proposal – with wood latticework, a flat roof and exterior shrubbery designed to help it blend into surrounding nature.
There are echoes of traditional temple design in the proposal through its natural materials and form, with a sunken level sports ground at the centre of the 80-000 seat stadium.
Design B – standing 178 ft tall – is a more ethereal design, complete with exterior glass walls reflecting the sky that are designed to reflect the traditional Asian elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
An artist rendering shows the side view of Design B proposed by one of two groups competing to build the new Tokyo Olympic stadium Photo: Japan Sports Council via AP
Designers behind both proposals have stated that they would be able to complete them by the end of November 2019 – over a month before the January 2020 deadline requested by the International Olympic Committee.
The government is keen to move quickly in terms of choosing a design and starting construction work, following the high-profile controversy surrounding its abandonment of the Hadid proposal.
It was in July that Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, announced that Hadid’s design – dubbed by some the “bike helmet” due to its shape – was being abandoned due to soaring costs.
The decision means that the new stadium will not be ready to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup as was initially planned, although the new project will remain the centrepiece for the 2020 Olympic Games.
It also led to the resignation of Hakubun Shimomura from his position as Sports Minister, with reports implicating his ministry and Japan Sport Council in the controversy surrounding the rise in costs of Hadid’s design.