Tokujin Yoshioka reveals alternative vision for Tokyo Olympic stadium


Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka has revealed his own vision for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium, which he was not permitted to enter into the design competition (+ movie).

Olympic stadium by Tokujin Yoshioka

Yoshioka – best known for his transparent furniture and weather-themed installations – planned to compete against Kengo Kuma and Toyo Ito in the most recent stadium design contest, but was excluded from entering.

Like original competition winner Zaha Hadid, who was also unable to bid for the project again, the Tokyo-based designer could not meet the brief criteria without finding a construction partner able to guarantee a budget.

Olympic stadium by Tokujin Yoshioka

"Since the competition this time around called for a design-build format, countless architects including Zaha Hadid and myself were not able to participate," said Yoshioka.

The designer's proposal is for a ring-shaped stadium with a pool of water on the roof. This pool could be repurposed as an iceskating rink, he suggests, while during events it would integrate a ring of fire.

Olympic stadium by Tokujin Yoshioka

He describes it as "a piece of architecture transformed into a platform for the Olympic Flame".

"Visitors can enjoy jogging and strolling at the tranquil water's edge amid the greenery of the outer gardens," he explained. "During the summer, it produces a cooling effect, and in winter it is transformed into an ice skating rink. The water can also be used in the event of a disaster."

Olympic stadium by Tokujin Yoshioka

"A piece of architecture which transcends form becomes a fountain for athletes, and at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics it will be reborn as a huge platform for the Olympic Flame – a symbol of courage and hope to people all over the world," he added.

Now that Kengo Kuma has been selected to take the project forward, Yoshioka hopes his design can be recycled for another location, either in Japan or elsewhere.

"It is my wish that this idea will live on perpetually and be realised somewhere in the world in the future," he said.

Olympic stadium by Tokujin Yoshioka

Hadid was ousted from the stadium job back in July, despite having worked on the design for over two years. Kuma was revealed to be taking over the project in December, and has denied claims that his design is similar to Hadid's.

Yoshioka has never completed a major building project before, but his previous forays into architecture include a glass tea house and a window made of 500 glass prisms.

  • Anton

    Wow, it is truly a simple but clever approach to designing a stadium. For some reason I believe that stadiums should be submerged in the ground. It gives lightness to the stadium and doesn’t look as chunky as Hadid’s design for Tokyo.

    • DesignDick

      I like this too, very convincing. In part, it is similar in concept to Hitoshi Abe’s Miyagi Stadium where the stadium is integrated into the landscape.

  • persimen

    The one glaring issue is that, if it rains unexpectedly it is likely the water will overflow onto the field. Same with an unexpected freeze that would expand and crack the structure. Otherwise I think it’s a great design and should be built somewhere in Japan.

    • LaserBeamEyes

      I would assume that management of the water feature was thought out even if it wasn’t presented.

  • Meme

    I like it. On top of it there should be vegetation and a running track on soil, which is healthy for feet, plus some architectural elements for shade (protection from hot sun and rainwater).

    • Guest

      Anything else?

  • The amount of structure it would take to hold up the donut is unfathomable. Showing 100ft tall expanses of (structural?) glazing looks great, but come on.

    Zaha’s was chunky but at least it was (arguably) buildable. There’s more of a chance of the ring floating in mid-air on its own than getting a contractor to provide a GMP. Nice, simple concept though.

  • Darren

    This kind of design only exists on a drawing board. Fab concept and design though, I give him that.

  • chronologic

    I think a summer Olympic games should have an iconic stadium like this, one that sums up a nation’s pride at a glance. I’m not sure Kengo Kuma’s does that, but it’s too early to tell.

    I love how this design takes into account public usage after the games. Of course I would love to jog around that roof!

  • spadestick

    Looks insanely expensive and water in the summer retains heat. It doesn’t produce any cooling effect unless sprayed.

  • phong

    Yes, just casually dig a 35-metre-deep hole…

  • pipo

    So Tokujin is going to make water burn, sure. That ring of fire is only there to make the PR aerial shots look fancy.

    It wouldn’t add anything to the experience as a visitor. You probably wouldn’t even see it. Yoshioka is all about making some fancy magazine content, and he is good at that I have to admit.

  • Roberto Sideris

    This has so much vision in comparison to the current proposed design. It also represents Japan much better than Zaha’s design in its simplicity.

    • Kamil Kibar

      I am afraid the problems it would face in terms of seismic effects are not easily solvable. Tons of water high above thousands of people in a place where earthquakes are frequent is a bit too fancy for today. Architects’ creative ego is important, but so are humans lives and public money.

  • Kj W

    Very nice proposal but I wonder about structure. Is it possible?

  • 竜皐一

    What there was was the best.

  • Sim

    I like it. I’m sure that the “problems” that are summed up here in the comments can be solved pretty easily. Nice that there are more ways to use this building. It has to be really level with that ring of water.

  • Chad Sutter

    Yet further reason the Olympics has become more about being a spectacle and less about human relations and interaction.

    The Olympics used to be about bringing the best athletes together to compete and to interact and build friendships. Stadiums and venues that cost hundreds of millions, if not billions to construct, do not make the athletes better, nor do they do much of anything for long-term improvement of the communities they’re built in.

    One item rarely factored in is the long-term use, upkeep and maintenance of the facilities. Where does that weigh in in this design?

  • Jean Pierre Maissa

    Clever, semi-underground: the ancient Greeks did the same.

  • Fer

    The most beautiful stadium design I’ve ever seen. It’s really Tokyo’s loss.

  • millsae

    Cue the Johnny Cash song…

  • Roger That

    It should be compulsory for all stadiums to have a BBQ on the roof.

  • i have an idea too !

    All these projects are mediocre. Open multistage competition and there you will have some idea about quality. Otherwise, this is a fight between developers not architects (architects are just poor tools in this money battle).