Hadid says Japanese architects are “hypocrites” for Tokyo stadium criticism


Zaha Hadid strikes back at Japanese architects about their criticism of her Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium design.

The Iraqi-born architect tells Dezeeen: “I think it’s embarrassing for them, that’s all I can say. I understand it’s their town but they are hypocrites.”

Hadid had won the competition to design the 80,000 seat Japan National Stadium in 2012, beating out competition including Japanese architect Tadao Ando.


Last October, Pritzker Prize-winner Fumihiko Maki organised a symposium for Japanese designers such as Toyo Ito and Kengo Kumo, protesting against the size of Hadid’s proposal in relation to its surroundings in Yoyogi Park.

More recent criticism has come from Arata Isozaki, who last month stated that Hadid’s re-design of the proposed project will be “a disgrace to future generations”

“They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium,” said Hadid, who also designed the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

“On the other hand, they all have work abroad. Whether it’s Sejima, Toyo Ito, or Maki or Isozaki or Kengo Kuma.”

Among the 11 finalists in the competition to design the stadium were Japanese designers including Toyo Ito, SANAA.

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

Hadid told Dezeen that she was saddened by the comments from her fellow professionals.

“Many of them were friends of mine, actually the ones which I supported before like Toyo Ito, who I worked with on a project in London. I’ve known him for a long time.”

“It saddens me,” said Hadid. “What can I do? They’re going ahead with it irrespective. So…”

The stadium is set to become the main venue for Tokyo’s successful 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games bid, and is due for completion in 2019, when it is scheduled to host games during the Rugby World Cup.

Zaha Hadid Architects confirmed that the design had been revised following budget changes and the ongoing criticism – including a 500-person street protest – in July.

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