November 5 - Zaha Hadid's controversial design to rebuild the National Stadium in Tokyo in time for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics has been defended by the British architect overseeing the project.
The 80,000-seat, futuristic-looking Stadium has been condemned as being too expensive by Japanese politicians and criticised by architects as being too big and unsustainable.
Hadid's proposal to redesign the Stadium, originally built in 1958 and which hosted the 1964 Olympics and Paralympics, was chosen last November before the Japanese capital was awarded the 2020 Games when it was estimated it would cost 130 billion yen (£824 million/$1.3 billion/€967 million).
Now, that figure has risen to 300 billion yen (£2 billion/$3 billion/€2.2 billion), which Japan's Olympics Minister Hakubun Shimomura has admitted may "be too much".
The proposed Stadium is set to host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for Tokyo 2020, as well as athletics, football and rugby sevens, but has been the focus of debate since last month when leading Japanese architects, including Fumihiko Maki, Toyo Ito, Sou Fujimoto and Kengo Kuma, organised a symposium calling for the design to be scaled back.
But Jim Heverin, Zaha Hadid Architects project director for the Stadium, has now publicly backed the plans and warned that they must be allowed to fulfil the original designs.
"The articulation, how [the design] manifests itself, really needs to come from a single vision, otherwise there won't be authorship, there won't be an authentic voice behind it," he told Kyodo News.
"You get that in all good buildings, all good pieces of design.
"I don't think [the design] is something that you can decide by committee."
The futuristic look of the Stadium will ultimately help promote Japan, claimed Heverin.
"What we see in Japan is both innovation and craftsmanship," he said.
"Both together is what people have always liked about Japan."
Heverin also claims that hosting the Olympics and Paralympics means that Tokyo need the Stadium to have a capacity of 80,000, more than third bigger than its current capacity of 48,000.
The Stadium is also due to host the final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
"The actual scale of it, you have to go up a certain height to get over 80,000 seats," Heverin told Kyodo News.
But Heverin claimed fears the new Stadium would ruin the surrounding area, best known for the Meiji Jingu Shrine, a large green space dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.
He claimed that the design, which includes an elevated walkway circling the entire Stadium, will help people to come into closer contact with the arena on an everyday basis and reinvent the public spaces in the area.
"We've tried to continue the park through the Stadium as a walk," said Heverin.
"At the moment you can't walk across the site but this walkway and the concourse will allow you to walk through the site and run through the Stadium and this way it will become, hopefully, part of the park.
"The most important thing is how it feels for the people.
"That it's not some object that just dominates in the background.
"I think if we succeed in the fact that its open and it has this continuity, then I really think that this will be seen as a vibrant addition to the area.
"You have a real potential for all of this to act as a more active sports hub area."
Heverin also warned that if costs are cut too aggressively then it could affect the long-term profitability of the Stadium.
"When you've done all that you can, in terms of making the design as efficient as possible, you can still reduce costs by losing functionality," he told Kyodo News.
"But that's always a difficult debate with the client, because if you give up functionality for a short-term reduction in your capital costs, over the lifespan of the building which might be 50, 100 years, you have reduced your ability to earn back your original capital costs.
"We've seen that constantly in other projects, it's a very difficult conversation."
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October 2013: Japan may be forced to scale back Zaha Hadid-designed Tokyo 2020 Stadium to save costs
November 2012: Zaha Hadid chosen to design Tokyo stadium set to be centrepiece of 2020 Olympics
October 2012: London 2012 Olympic Stadium architects shortlisted to redesign iconic Tokyo venue
July 2012: Tokyo 2020 unveil plans for Olympic Stadium that would be "jewel in the crown"