On Saturday, placard-wearing protestors took to the streets of central Tokyo and peacefully encircled the 50,000-seat Kasumigaoka National Stadium designed by Mitsuo Katayama and erected for the 1964 Olympics. In preparation for hosting the games again in 2020, the vintage structure is being readied for demolition followed by replacement with a futuristic, Zaha Hadid-designed arena several times its size. But a collection of architects and lay people alike are hoping to convince the Japan Sport Council (JSC) to do otherwise.
Japan does not have a great track record when it comes to preserving historic structures. Yet the destruction of a building that has come to symbolize the country’s revival after World War II is just one reason why some are up in arms over the proposed arena. The result of an international competition, the commission was awarded to the London-based designer before Tokyo had even been selected as the host city. Perhaps the building’s bold form—it resembles an enormous bike helmet—helped sway the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Or maybe it was the stadium’s location. Tokyo lost a previous bid when officials suggested a site in Odaiba, a newly developed area with plenty of open space but situated at the edge of Tokyo Bay, apart from the city’s core.