The new National Stadium of Japan by Zaha Hadid Architects will be at the heart of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The recent announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games ensures the new stadium will be at the heart of the event.

In November 2012, Zaha Hadid Architects won an international design competition run by the Japan Sport Council for a futuristic stadium design that would play a key role in Tokyo’s bid to secure the 2020 Olympic games and the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

Hadid’s new stadium will replace the current ageing National Stadium, which was built in 1958 and housed the 1964 Olympics.

Initially, it was suggested that the old stadium be renovated, but it is now slated to be completely demolished next year with the new stadium ready by March 2019.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ stadium design was selected from 46 entries winning out over fellow finalists Cruz y Oritz Arquitectos’ renovation of Madrid’s existing La Peineta stadium and the redesign of Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium.

“It’s an honour for us to be selected to built the new National Stadium of Japan,” said Hadid at the time of her win. “Our three decades of research into Japanese architecture and urbanism is evident in our winning design and we greatly look forward to building the new National Stadium.”

Hadid recently congratulated the city of Tokyo on its Olympic win, saying that her company has “put together an excellent team to deliver a magnificent venue on schedule for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Tokyo Olympic Games the following year.”

During the games, the stadium will host track and field along with the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tokyo National Stadium

Tokyo National Stadium – Skeletel Shell Architecture

According to the International Olympic Committee, the calibre of stadium available in each vying city is a major factor in helping to cities secure an Olympic bid, with other factors including the city’s infrastructure, financial and political stability and cultural and tourist opportunities.

Architecturally, the stadium echoes Hadid’s signature futuristic and fluid design and has been likened to a space-age “mothership” or “bike helmet.”

The ambitious project has an estimated price tag of $1.2 billion and will cover 290,000 square metres of Shinjukiu, Tokyo. It will feature a retractable roof and seat up to 80,000 people.

The stadium will also feature adjustable seating sections that will move closer to the field of play for football and rugby matches, enabling the stadium to play host to other sporting, cultural and music events.

The fluid lines of the structure are designed to connect seamlessly to the surrounding landscape as well as public spaces including a library and museum which will wrap around the stadium to encourage community activities.

Tokyo National Stadium Interior

Inside the stadium

The mothership and bike helmet design comparisons are most likely derived from the main structure which features a skeletal shell and major arches filled with cable netting that will permanently cover the ground.

“It’s a piece of the city’s fabric, an urban connector which enhances and modulates people moving through the site from different directions and points of access,” Hadid’s website explains of the project. “The elevated ground connections govern the flow of people through the site, effectively carving the geometric forms of the building.”

The architects envision that the focus on urban and open space will engage the city to give Tokyo a lasting legacy well beyond the 2020 Olympic Games.

Madrid and Istanbul also recently unveiled stadium designs with an urban focus and “masterplan” vision for spaces that would be able to host an array of activities and be utilised beyond their Olympic requirements.

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid

Recently in Sydney, Australia, a $250 million renovation of their original ANZ Olympic Park Stadium which hosted the 2000 Olympics was also made public.

The renovation revealed a multi-purpose stadium with flexible seating, a retractable roof and the ability for the ground to to be reconfigured from an oval-shaped to a rectangular field to cater to rugby codes and football in just 12 hours.

Stadium designs worldwide are demonstrating a growing trend toward flexible spaces. Designers now face heightened expectations, with stadiums expected to offer a premium sports facility combined with surrounding entertainment, retail and public activity offerings.