Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Unveiled In Tokyo, Japan

The new national stadium in Tokyo, Japan was unveiled this past Sunday, December 15th, finally revealing to the world where certain events for the 2020 Summer Olympic games will be held. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the extremely talented architect behind the huge project, Kengo Kuma, unveiled the stadium at the official ceremony. 

According to reports, the stadium cost about $1.4 billion and is large enough to hold 68,000 individuals. Obviously the stadium will be hosting the opening and closing ceremonies for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Additionally, the actual turf/field areas of the stadium will be used to hold various soccer matches and track-and-field events during the Games this summer.  

“The Olympics always becomes a symbol for the era, so with the 2020 Olympics, we wanted to create something that captures the people’s thoughts on the environment or the Earth at the time. So, we thought that the best material for this era would be wood,” Kuma told CNN in an interview. 

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The use of wood materials also comes from Kuma’s own personal style as an architect. Kuma is generally known for his use of natural materials in his designs, no matter how industrialized or modern they are. So when taking on this specific monumental project, Kuma wanted to take that personal style, and mend it with traditional Japanese architectural elements. Part of that meant looking at the natural world/environment for inspiration, which could explain why observers have made so many comparisons to bird nests with the new national stadium’s lattice design. 

Kuma also expressed how the design for the stadium was partially inspired by Tokyo’s Edo-Period temples.  These temples have become iconic in association with Japanese culture and are instantly recognizable to most, so it makes sense that Kuma wanted to apply that same cultural value to his design.

“All over the world, architecture in the 20th century that uses concrete and steel feels cold and stiff. I want to make it softer, kinder, warmer. I think that’s the kind of architecture that humans need, during this stressful era,” said Kuma. 

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The stadium itself is located in the Meijijingu Gain park. Kuma stated that he believes this park is the “greenest place in Tokyo,” and knew it would be perfect for the stadium, since it’s inspired heavily by the natural world. 

Reports state that the final design of the stadium features large roof eaves, which is the part of a roof that overhangs on the side typically to help rain water flow onto the ground, however, in this case the eaves are meant to encourage air circulation in the stadium. Air circulation will be extremely important when it comes time for the actual Olympic games, as one of the biggest concerns with holding the games in Tokyo was how brutally hot summers can be. The eaves in the roof will allow air to circulate throughout the lattice design and create a breeze within the stadium on hot summer days. 

Kuma also stated that he wanted the community to be a major focus when it comes to the stadium so he designated parts of the stadium, inside and out, where individuals can go and enjoy a walk on a nice day. When thinking of how to highlight traditional Japanese values within his design, Kuma knew that community values had to be at the center of it. 

“Of course, we would like both athletes and spectators to enjoy the stadium, but at the same time we thought of something we can contribute to the community,” Kuma said.