October 30 - Populous, the British firm behind the successful Olympic Stadium at London 2012, are among the companies shortlisted in the design contest for the remodelling of the Kasumigaoka National Stadium, which will be the centrepiece of the 2020 Games if Tokyo's bid is successful next year.
They have been chosen in the first round of selections along with another British firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, who designed the Aquatics Centre for London 2012.
The Japan Sport Council, owner of the iconic Stadium, selected a total of 11 out of the 46 entries for the international design competition to update and remodel the venue in preparation for Tokyo's Olympic and Paralympic bid and the 2019 Rugby World Cup, when it is due to host the final.
The Stadium was originally built as the main venue for the 1958 Asian Games and then became the centrepiece of the 1964 Olympics, when Japan was the first Asian country to host the Games.
Populous are one of the most successful sports architect firms in the world, having also designed the new Wembley Stadium in London, the Olympic Stadium currently being built for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi and Soccer City in Johannesburg, which hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup final.
Leading the Tokyo project for Populous is Australian Rod Sheard, who, having designed the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, is the only only architect to have designed two Olympic Stadiums in the modern era.
Hadid's design for Tokyo appears to pay more than a little nod to the highly praised Aquatics Centre she drew up for London 2012 with its wave like roof.
Besides Zaha Hadid, Populous will face opposition from four Japanese companies and one each from Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey to redesign a Stadium that will become famous around the world if Tokyo beat rivals Istanbul and Madrid in the race to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
"As it has come time for the National Stadium to be rebuilt after half a century from its creation, we have called for ideas from near and afar with the hope of realising an architecture of the finest quality that embodies the technology and intellect of our present age," said Tadao Ando, the chairman of the jury who drew up the shortlist
"We have since received numerous ambitious proposals in response to our call."
Ando has admitted that whoever is chosen to redesign the Stadium faces a tough challenge because the site is so narrow and must accomodate crowds of up to 80,000.
The Stadium is also located close to the Meiji Shrine, which is dedicated to the deified spirits Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.
"It should establish a dialogue with its physical context, which includes sites such as the Meiji Shrine, and also be equipped with advanced environmental systems that take into consideration the global environment," said Ando.
"Additionally, the project must run on a short schedule in order to be ready for hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup."
"In the first-round review, the Jury committee considered the proposals from a variety of aspects and selected eleven projects that present visions for overcoming the challenges and carry messages that announce the coming of a new age.
"It is our hope that an architecture that sets a standard for this new age of the Earth will soon be born."
The winner is due to be announced in the middle of next month and the award ceremony will take place in late November.
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July 2012: Tokyo 2020 unveil plans for Olympic Stadium that would be "jewel in the crown"