Wood? where is it?…new Olympic stadium ongoing construction

Coming back to Japan and wanted to swim on along distance I went to the Tokyo Gymnasium who host a fantastic, open to all, 50 metre long swimming pool, clean and perfect as you may expect. (it is Sendagaya station for those interested)

Unfortunately the second time, was on Tuesday, and not checking the days off, I found it there. Strolling around the Gymnasium a creepy view was in the horizon, just behind the beautiful dome of the pool (designed by F.Maki by the way).

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium 2017

if you recall the second competition, won by K.Kuma associated with Taisei Corporation and if I recall well Azuma architects, you may remember nice images full of wood an green. That is decoration, design intent. What is the core of the stadium you are seeing this picture: steel and concrete, and what else would might be?


Finding that architect Maki designed the Gymnasium to me it is a reason more to understand why he was chief leader against the original winner project for the new Olympic stadium since your design would be outlaw by the new wave. The funny thing abou that is that always those who were at the beginning of their career the most unbiased it turn out to be the most conservative as the times passes to become a caricature of their own lost value.


A link of some “fantastic” they lost to give some money to the Steel and Concrete Japanese construction base moloch companies.



Beyond the bubble. The new japanese architecture, by Botond Bognar, a review

Continuing my series of readings with the intent to give it a bit of body, I suggest  this book. It is has been published in 2008 by Phaidon Press.

The writer, says the back cover, teaches at University of Illinois(here) . Every time, you take a book that says New …something and it is dated says 10 years ago, you already knows that , at his best, it can give you some hindsight of what is happening now.

The great merit of this book it is in its short essay.

Mr. Bognar explained very well to me, the crazyness of the bubble era to which, until I read this book, I just heard about but I did not realize exactly how it was.

When he describes the real building of architect Masaharu Takasaki, Crystal Light guest House, built in 1986 and demolished in 1989…it says a lot about the folie/madness of the Bubble and he also explains why. My question, of course, arise: are we heading toward another bubble? Olympic itself is triggering it? Those are not in the book, they are my personal doubts about he current situation while stock market is rocketing…instead the book is composed by 4 sections:

1 – Introduction

2- The bubble years – The epitome of Japanese Postmodernism

3 – After the bubble – New Realities, new priorities

4- Beyond the bubble ‐The Architects

The first three sections are terrific. They are well documented and well explained and if you think that one of the most venerate architects, mr Toyo Ito, has Taichung Metropolitan Opera (Taiwan) mentioned and illustrated, when in reality  the construction just finished last year, you have the idea that even if it is written before 2008 it is not yet a dated book.

At the end of the third section he write a paragraph called lightly “Assessing the future – in lieu of a Conclusion” when it reports words from a philosopher Koji Taki, that basically does not suprise.

The 4th section is a commented Gallery, closer to a well illustrated magazine that sports works from 18 Architects studio such as:

Tele-Design, Koji Yagi, Kazunari Sakamoto, Atelier Bow-Wow, Kazuyo Sejima, Shigeru Ban, Waro Kishi, Nikken Sekkei Ltd, SANAA, Jun Aoki, Ryoji Suzuki, Yasumitsu Matsunaga, Riken Yamamoto, Obayashi Corporation, Yoshio Taniguchi, Kengo Kuma, Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito.

If you do not know half of those people than the book it may worth the acquire or if you like architecture large pictures as well. The proposed works are also well explained in their main features. One merit of the book also is to mention some foreigners who are working in Tokyo competing within the tight market.








House Vision 2016

I went yesterday, Saturday, the 27th to this wonderful exhibition.

Here some links of video I shot.

It closed on Sunday August 28th.


House nr. 9,here. Nippon Design Center, for Toppan Printing.


House nr. 1, here. Fumie Shibata for Yamato Holdings.


House nr.8, here. K.Kuma, Seijun Nishihata for Sumitomo Forestry.


The winner is, Jun Iagarashi and Taihi Fujimori with their Inside Out/Furniture room.

Really lovely, above all the others.  House nr.10,  here. for TOTO and YKK AP


IN total there were 12 houses, but not all of them were houses, like 8 and 11, were outdoor

places. nr4. an Office space by Bow Wow.

There is a book already onliune if you`d like to have everything collected. I bought it as a present to a friend in Italy.

Last, I think Kuma, with designing the whole exhibition and 3 years before the House vision 1, first gathering must be considered a leading figure into this productive, architectural environment.

(Also you can see other old posts on this blog about that exibihition, 1,        2,        3,       4,        5, )

So I will put a link to an interesting introduction to his japanese theory book, called defeated architecture, of a blogger also that seems to be one of his

teammates at the studio or just one of his student I do not know really. Here, His ore her name is Zhue, and the article is dated back 2009.

Wood for the Olympic stadium in Tokyo?

So the chosen options are two:

one is from Taisei corporation that follows the Kengo Kuma Design

the other one is from Toyo Ito concept backed by Obayashi, Takenaka and Shimizu corporation.

Here the link with a video with two pictures of proposal A(Kuma)  and B(Ito)

In another link you can compare the two pictures from above (the red roof is the Ito one)

I think it is a political wise strategy. First you won the competition to obtain the Omlypic in your conutry with a wonderful galactic project at the end of a pompous world wide open competition asking to design a dream….than when you have already won the right to organizethe competition you really budget everything. This time you ask for a sober project, eventually ending to a japanese firm – which are among the best of the world – and nobody is upset….but the fact that they have to go abroad to buy the wood…since on japanese land the wood industry is setting back because the Japanese Law about wood.

Would not it be hironic they say.

Lately I found a full,well written article about the whole story of the Zaha Haidi scrapping. I would encourage to click on it, it seems it is signed by a real journalist and not only a blogger.


no picture just fuss about Zaha Hadid Olympic Stadium project being dumped

Some of the comments about the decision of the Tokyo Decisional Committe to dump the iconic and costly project of mrs Hadid, that I posted here and here, just miss the mark. I think the decision is on the Abe`s wave and it could not been much clearer. Even if japanese architects have some good points in their criticism, they should respect the Committe decision, which was leaded by T.Ando…one of the mayor architects of our time. I speak by knowledge, by loving and hating the town of Tokyo everyday. Here 99,9 % of new projects do not take in any consideration the surroundings…why they should blame Hadid for that?

Take it for granted that is a political decision, the comments should be political. Architects tend to consider themselves more important than what they really are…

Also I found this bad article about the works of Hadid and Gehry plenty of preposterous (yes it has been long time I wanted to use this english word) criticism. Architecture and arts reflect their time…is it so difficult to understand it?

Politically : really would you blame a Prime Minister who is struggling to restore a positive economic outlook to his country? And it seems he has found, on the ground of few economists when all the wall streeters were tagging him as insane, and his strategy as a losing strategy? And if his strategy entails an unconfessed negative bias for foreigners…?

…comment accepted, you are welcome.

My unmovable point is that the project is plenty of nice features even after the sized down and they are losing an Architectural opportunity, on the other side a new project, maybe is already there but they cannot say it…

Typically everybody would love to own and drive a Ferrari, but do you think are you entitled to it if your wallet let`s you buy just a wolkswagen? It looks what is happened there…

I add the architectural deepen link, just discovered by an insider in the Japan World. This is really a well documented assembly gathered in those days (October)

The food and agricoltural museum, by K.Kuma, 2004

the-food-and-agriculture-museum-tokyo-university-of-agricultureFirst Time I went there it was closed. It took me a long walk so I was a bit disappointed. Luckily there was a korean restaurant in the surroundings. Also I took awalk to the Park called Banji koen, where it might have happened the Olympic Horses competition during the 1964 event.

This Museum established a sort of the state of the Art for Kuma`s aesthetic.  The “louvre” is going from the ground to the top, erasing the roof as if there is non need to cover ourselves anymore.

Inside everything was not definitive.  One kind of light wood was the main feature  from vertical division to false celing to, of course floors and furnitures. In the detail below a corner of the curtain wall with stone wearing mullions is visible.  Also the lightings from the ground, partially hidden by the bushes.

Detail of Museumthe-food-and-agriculture-museum-tokyo-university-of-agriculture/Here is the main official site of Kuma`architects.

The railing where made with wires and glass I recall. And Some paritions also by glass. Unfortunatelu I do not have interior picture but you can see them here.

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M2 by Kengo Kuma, 1991

I did not know something like that was even possible to think.




A big greek colum stays in the centre as if it is trying to hold and balance something merely patched together. I do not know what was the thinking behind this design but it must be something very elaborated…

Still remain something misterious even today. It is part of the post-modern wave I guess. It is true that Kuma claims started his careeer big shift when he learned more about wood thanks to a japanese artisan, according to the interview contained in the book by Hagenberg, nevertheless I hold at my home an old architectural magazine number called SD, from th 80ies.

The number was addressed to introduce the reader to young architects. Among them Kuma was presented as one of the more interested and involved in the theory…among the others were also mentioned Shigeru Ban and Shin Takamatsu.

Here the official web site from K.Kuma

Here below some more pictures

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