Author: David Rowlinson
First published in Dezeen
According to the Architect behind the revolutionary design for the stadium to be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Kengo Kuma, the form of the building should be as subtle as possible, because then the material's character can reveal itself.
This approach is best illustrated by the stadium that Kuma has designed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: a wooden arena, with plants and trees filling the terraces that make up its exterior walls. It is a far cry from the more sculptural design created by Zaha Hadid, which won the original design competition but was controversially scrapped by the Japanese government after two years of development.
"I believe concrete and steel were the materials of the previous century, and the key material for the twenty-first century will be wood again,” said Kuma. “Wood used to construct the stadium will be sourced from parts of Japan affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and help create a building with a human scale.”
"It is oriented horizontally, its silhouette is as low as possible, and key structural parts are small and made of wood," he said. "Its size is closer to the human body, and there is a clear reference to the current situation in Japan."
“I'm very interested in the technique and technology of making a building. Most of the history of architecture is about the changing styles of architecture. But behind the change of style, there was often a change of construction method and changes in the way material was used. Especially in Japan, before the concrete technology that came from Europe and the USA, we had a very long tradition of wooden buildings.
"Wooden buildings and concrete buildings are totally different from each other. For wooden buildings, ageing is very important. With wooden buildings, we are able to design the process of its ageing. But with concrete buildings, people seem to forget the ageing of the material.”