Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium Retrofit Plan
The cost of developing a new structure from the ground up will just about always eclipse the cost of retrofitting a new one. In crowded Tokyo, where land couldn’t be at a higher premium, that rule was in full effect when the city won its $5 billion bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The plan revolves around a retrofit of the Olympic stadiums built for the 1964 games, which ushered Japan back into the post – World War 2 international community with a exultant splash and global attention through satellite TV coverage. Planners expect similar payoff for the city but this time with far less capital outlay than is common for Olympic development projects. The 2012 London games came in at a total cost to the UK of $12 billion, while the 2014 Winter games in Sochi, Russia are expected to cost a jaw-dropping $50 billion.
Though plenty are questioning whether the economic commitment could worsen Japan’s ongoing recession, Tokyo’s bid is a smarter, leaner vision of what’s traditionally expected of Olympic host cities. Rather than building entirely new venues, they’ll retrofit existing structures throughout the city—including the same stadium built for the 1964 Games, which will get a dramatic makeover by Zaha Hadid.
Working with the structural bones of the old stadium, Hadid will add a retractable roof and other contemporary perks—and save the city millions in the process. Two other 1964 venues (Nippon Budokan and the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, seen below) will also be used for the 2020 Games, and thanks to Tokyo’s excellent transit system, the city won’t need to invest much in new train and bus lines.
There will also be dozens of new structures built, but almost all of them will be wedged into downtown Tokyo to reduce transit times and energy costs. A compact Olympic Village will be built on Tokyo Harbor and, when the Games wrap up, it will be converted into housing. This plan has its roots in the 1960s, at least conceptually: In 1960, a young architect named Kenzo Tange proposed the construction of a massive housing development across Tokyo Bay. It was never built, but the plan influenced urban design for decades to come.
The plan leans heavily on retrofitting – check out the proposal video from the architect to get a sense of what’s on tap for Tokyo.