Kengo Kuma and Toyo Ito unveil competing bids for Tokyo Olympic Stadium


Japanese architects Kengo Kuma and Toyo Ito have designed rival proposals to build the 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium, replacing Zaha Hadid's competition-winning design.

The Japan Sport Council (JSC) has revealed images of the two designs competing for the Tokyo National Stadium contract, which are by Japanese architects Kuma and Ito.

The two schemes were submitted anonymously to a new competition for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games stadium.

Japan National Stadium scheme A by Kengo Kuma
Japan National Stadium scheme A is designed by Kengo Kuma

According to Dezeen's sources, Kuma has partnered with Taisei Construction on scheme A, while Ito is working with construction companies Takanaka, Obayashi and Shimizu on scheme B.

Design A is a ring-shaped stadium with a latticed wooden roof, and an oblong well above the race trace and pitch. Rows of slender columns support the viewing terraces, which feature banks of planting. The scheme is estimated to cost ¥153 billion (£832.2 million).

Japan National Stadium scheme B is designed by Toyo Ito
Japan National Stadium scheme B is designed by Toyo Ito

Design B also features an oval plan and has an atrium surrounded by a wavering glass shelter. The design is estimated to cost ¥153.7 billion (£836 million).

The winner will replace the 80,000-seat stadium design by Zaha Hadid that was scrapped in the summer, even though the London architect had been working on it for over two years.

Ito and Kuma were among a host of high-profile architects and designers that petitioned against Hadid's design in 2013. They claimed the stadium was "too big" for the city's Yoyogi neighbourhood and that the architect's design "could be better".

Zaha Hadid teams up with Nikken Sekkei to submit new bid for Tokyo 2020 stadium
Zaha Hadid teamed up with Nikken Sekkei to submit her last bid for the Tokyo 2020 stadium, but eventually gave up in September

Hadid teamed up with Japanese architecture and engineering firm Nikken Sekkei to renew its bid for the stadium in September, but was unable to enter the new competition as they couldn't secure a contractor.

"They don't want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium," Hadid told Dezeen at the time.

Costs for the stadium began at ¥130 billion (£707.1 million) but rose to ¥252 billion (£1.37 billion) in 2015. The new design team will have to work to a revised budget of ¥155 billion (£843 million).

The winner is expected to be announced at the end of December. Work is expected to start on the stadium in 2017 and complete by November 2019.

An earlier version of this story stated that scheme A was by Ito and B was by Kuma, based on incorrect information from our source. It was amended on 16 December 2016.


    I would never think that they were the architects of this proposal. This is not their style and probably the wooden one fits better with Kengo Kuma and vice versa. The proposal by SANAA was very nice and the scale looked perfect (improved by the stadium emerging slowly from the ground in some parts). It had that delicacy of all their work. And they are Japanese.

    • k0n

      It does look reversed indeed, although proposal A does indeed resemble Ito’s original submission with rings of galleries with planting, just sans the glass skin…

      About the SANAA proposal: it was a very good-looking design, but probably way too expensive to adapt for the adjusted budget.

  • Ito_Toyo_ko

    The conspiracy is becoming clear. People behind Zaha’s scandal are coming forward with conservative, snooze design.

    • Nicole

      I prefer a stadium done by Kuma or Ito compared to one done by Zaha. Have you seen the additional renders?

  • Ali Abbas

    Are you sure you have the stadiums the right way round Dezeen? Stadium A look Kuma, stadium B Ito?

    • Meme

      I believe they ripped off each other’s ideas. Really confusing.

  • k0n

    “Atrium”? On a stadium? That must be the first time I’ve seen it described that way. Otherwise, both designs are in my opinion somewhat nicer than ZHA’s proposal* and, in case of Ito’s, also better than his initial shortlisted competition entry. I think I would favour Kuma’s proposal out of these two.

    * I only liked one thing about that design – the low profile allowed for a saddle-shaped bowl and arched span structure.

  • fact

    They got what they deserve.

  • commenter

    I think 153.7 billion yen is more than 15.7 million pounds…

  • Derek_V

    Toyo Ito lost the first competition, agitated against the result and he’s now trying to grab the project. How low can a human being sink?

    • SteveLeo

      Probably lower than what you have just described.

      • Rain

        True, the Japanese tend to have no shame the older they get.

        • Nicole

          Good. Otherwise we’d be stuck with another huge Hadid turd.

  • Nicole

    Quite a few renders were not included and give a more complete portrait of the proposals:

    • ivan.capitani

      The cheapness of the renders shown both in the link and here in this article is disappointing. I mean, we are not talking about an unknown architecture office with two employees here, but we are dealing with two of the top architecture studios around, which have much more resources than most of the practices around, and all they come up with – after all the fuss they’ve made – is a bunch of images with a level of quality that you would expect to see from a second or third-year Bachelor student.

      Don’t they have someone good at rendering in their office? Or, are they so tight on money that they can’t afford to pay a good freelancer? Disappointing.

      • Nicole

        The renders look pretty typical to me of Japanese offices, and I’ve seen a few more images online that aren’t in this article or in the link. SANAA has the same quality when it comes to renders, and their buildings always turn out beautifully. I’d be interested in seeing how the Ito design works out.

    • apocalipstick

      According to this, Dezeen got it wrong. The wooden latticework scheme equals Kuma. Undulating roof and 72 pillars equals Ito. Quite obvious to the naked eye, unless it was 1 April…

  • Henry Tsang

    A: Kuma, B: Ito.

  • V

    Dezeen, your sources or you editors totally suck. If the rumours are true, A is Kengo Kuma and B is Toyo Ito.

    • Thanks V, it turns out our source had mixed up which one was A and which one was B! We’ve now amended and published an addendum. Amy/Dezeen

  • maishado

    Judging architecture from the sky is good only for TV audiences.

  • Arnold7tau

    Tokyo has a beautiful habit of creating mesmerising spaces through the accumulation of mediocre individual elements. The beauty is in the complexity that results from overlapping features, stores, sidewalks, streets, signs and lights and has very little to do with the individual elements alone.

    That said, it makes the little gems you find while exploring that much more special as they emerge from the miasma but also add a new, beautiful life to it. TO be sure, these stadiums will disappear, but not because they blend into the area, but because they are so mediocre that your gaze will skate over them and probably quickly forget your experience of them.

    They will blend in like the inconspicuous vending machines all over. What could have been on the site was one that does not blend in a mediocre way but adds to the number of wonderful gems in the city – another place that stands out and yet adds to the richness of the city: Nakagin Capsule Tower, Yoyogi gymnasium, Kumas Asakasa complex, the beautiful house scattered in neighbourhoods, and on and on.

    Obviously there are a lot of economic and no doubt political factors to account for, but the expressiveness of Zaha’s design gave the opportunity to create another special experience within this wonderful city. Too bad it will be missed and will become just another design added to the pile of unbuilt projects.

  • kuma kenko

    Meanwhile in Japan, many are giving every reason to praise both schemes and it makes me sick to hell. Some regret that Japan scrapped Zaha’s proposal. Well people, for goodness sake, let the Japanese be happy with themselves with their new stadium in their closed bubble. By the way, Ito’s proposal looks like it is in its menstrual cycle.

  • Guest

    Either is preferable to what would have been there.

  • Ryan Peter Nolan

    So the guys campaigning against Hadid in the first place have been shortlisted? I think there’s been some jealousy that firstly it wasn’t designed by a Japanese national and that they’d missed out on the publicity and fees for the stadium to Hadid. Her design was incredible. These are just lacklustre! Well done Japan for screwing up majorly!

    • Rain

      We can officially say that Japanese architecture has nothing to offer to the global scene. They had the great chance to excel in design and construction industry with Zaha’s Stadium, but instead have brought themselves back 20-30 years.

      • Nicole

        This is a bit of an overreaction. The selection of the stadium was still done by a committee, and both Ito and Kuma have done far better work than these.

  • t tecture

    Proposal B/Toyo Ito’s stadium design is so utterly dull it makes me angry. It is a lazy clip art stadium; elliptical two-tier bowl. Slightly wavy roof supported by sky hooks. External empty concourse. No facade. How dare he protest so much about Zaha Hadid’s if this is what his alternative is.

    Stadiums should not be designed by people who do not use stadiums.
    At least in Zaha’s design they were actively questioning what a stadium can as a piece of architecture and as an experience.

    For Japan’s sake, I hope they choose Kengo.

  • Nicole

    I don’t understand why there is the need to conflate the results of this competition with an entire culture and people. For many Japanese people, the stadium is entirely inconsequential to their lives.

  • Concerned Architect

    Let’s give them a nickname. Maxi pad for Ito’s. Any takers for the other one? On the other hand, I don’t see how these two designs are much cheaper and a smaller scale than ZHA’s design.

    • Nicole

      Height, size. Check the specifications.

  • Tokyo Jin

    Zaha has well explained her proposal (her story) in English. But at the same time, Japan has only been passively reported by foreign media. And I think this is the main reason why, when most Japanese people or architects are against Zaha’s proposal, more foreigners seems to support Zaha. The language barrier is the issue.

    Unlike most comments here, the Japanese are actually crazy about foreign culture and design. The biggest (according to budget) single public projects are Kansai Airport, Tokyo International Forum, Yokohama Terminal, Ryoppongi Hills… I cannot remember if any important and big public projects with a lot of design possibilities have been designed by the Japanese themselves.

    PS. If you were a Japanese citizen, would you pay 250 billion yen for a Zaha stadium or would you build Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio’s main stadiums with some billions of change?

    • Nicole

      These important and big public projects were designed by Japanese architects: Tokyo Skytree, Haneda Airport International Terminal (joint venture), Narita International Airport Terminal 3, Shibuya Station District Redevelopment, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Project, Toranomon Hills, Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line.

      • Tokyo Jin

        Yay that’s true. I made the statement way too rough. But the projects you mentioned were not the competition as I remembered. At the same time, no matter Kansai airport, Tokyo forum or Yokohama international are all competitions. Roppongi hills is not, my bad sorry.

  • Naoyuki Sasanami

    This project has been irresponsible from the start. This place can’t be certified for the international athletic regulation due to lack of subtrack site (will probably be temporary). There are already two stadiums out there with a subtrack in the Tokyo area. This will be likely a fated football and event stadium. Zaha’s plan makes sense at least in one point. If it can’t be full spec (I don’t mean its size), it “should be iconic for the forthcoming olympics”.

  • Shame for japan

    It’s an incredible shame for Japan and for those architects that took part in that unworthy scheme. If the prime minister changed his mind after two years he should organise another competition and not just choose two local architects.

    That’s the only country in the history of the Olympics that conducts such an act and therefore disagrees with the main idea of an international Olympic games. It’s a SHAME!