From January 2014

What Is ‘Architectural Identity’? Part V

New National Stadium © ZHA

 Finally we’ve come to the last part of the “What is ‘Architectural Identity?'” series. Having already looked at: aesthetics, function, historic/urban context and human impact, we look towards the last sub-topic on the subject, representation. Now this sub-topic is probably the most debatable category out of the previous categories we’ve touched on. Reason behind this? Opinions. Everyone has one. Sometimes people will agree on one thing whilst others will disagree completely or to a certain extent. Architecture isn’t immune to such subjective opinions, whether it is praise or criticism. A large part of architecture is not just to create inhabitable space in where we may co-exist with each other and our surroundings, not just how the building looks or works, but also what the building is suppose to ’embody’. This is where various factors come in to play, from architectural style to construction, contextual and social impact.  How a building is portrayed in its essence is the best way to describe how it is represented. If we look back one more time to Zaha Hadid’s design for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium for the 2020 Olympics.

What is the stadium itself suppose to represent? What did Zaha Hadid and her architectural studio have in mind when designing the stadium? According to Dezeen, she states “The stadium will become an integral part of Tokyo’s urban fabric, directly engaging with the surrounding cityscape to connect and carve the elegant forms of the design…our three decades of research into Japanese architecture and urbanism is evident in our winning design and we greatly look forward to building the new National Stadium”. Project director of the proposal, Jim Heverin mentions the concept of the stadium: “The articulation, how [the design] manifests itself, really needs to come from a single vision, otherwise there won’t be authorship, there won’t be an authentic voice behind it….you get that in all good buildings, all good pieces of design. I don’t think [the design] is something that you can decide by committee….what we see in Japan is both innovation and craftsmanship, both together is what people have always liked about Japan.” he told Kyodo News (via InsideTheGames.biz).  

zaha-hadid-new-national-stadium-of-japan-venue-for-tokyo-2020-olympics-designboom-01
Stadium in the existing context © ZHA

Walkthrough video of the stadium proposal on Youtube

 

Whilst talking to Kyodo News, Heverin continues: “We’ve tried to continue the park through the Stadium as a walk….at the moment you can’t walk across the site but this walkway and the concourse will allow you to walk through the site and run through the Stadium and this way it will become, hopefully, part of the park.” He goes on to say: “The most important thing is how it feels for the people…that it’s not some object that just dominates in the background. I think if we succeed in the fact that its open and it has this continuity, then I really think that this will be seen as a vibrant addition to the area. You have a real potential for all of this to act as a more active sports hub area.” With that in mind, you can begin to see that the big hope for this structure is that it not only becomes a hotspot attraction, not only to become a premier sporting hub, not to only harmoniously co-exist with the existing landscape but to become a long-standing, iconic legacy, something the people of Japan will be proud to call their own, now and years from now.  The inter-galactic structure does boast the personality of the nation, Japan’s unabashed craziness, their pioneering goals in innovative technologies and discoveries, creating a sense of presence and impact, in the daily lives of the public, as well as creating a popular tourist destination for the city. The issue of people is a big thing in Japan, with their satisfactory to decent standards of quality living, their large aging populace, with the varied mix of families and single individuals, the need to create a place that is made accessible and usable for everyone is critical. It’s important that this structure will not only be just the embodiment of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, even though the Olympic brand must be represented in the highest regard. It will need to be the perfect embodiment of the host country and its citizens. When Tokyo takes to the world stage, the whole world will be watching. Representation is key.

Some examples varied architectural representations include: the timeless Greek Parthenon, the historical enriched Hagia Sophia, the ‘poster-boy’ of American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest work: Fallingwater, the architectural brand infusion of Burberry (Chicago) and the soon to be finished the One World Trade Centre (Freedom Tower) at Ground Zero.

 

 

Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org
Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org

Name: The Parthenon

Location:  Athens, Greece

Architects/Designers: Ictinus, Callicrates/Phidias

Date:  447 BC-438 BC

 

Picture source: http://annoyzview.files.wordpress.com
Picture source: http://annoyzview.files.wordpress.com

Name: Hagia Sophia

Location:  Istanbul, Turkey

Architects: N/A

Date:  532 – 537

 

Picture source: http://ayay.co.uk/
Picture source: http://ayay.co.uk/

Name: Fallingwater

Location:  Pennsylvania, USA

Architects: Frank Lloyd Wright

Date:  1936-39

 

Picture source: http://www.azahner.com/
Picture source: http://www.azahner.com/

Name: Burberry Chicago

Location:  Chicago, USA

Architects: Burberry & Callison

Date:  2011-12

 

Picture source: http://www.wbrz.com
Picture source: http://www.wbrz.com

Name: One World Trade Centre

Location:  New York City, USA

Architects: Daniel Libeskind, David Childs

Date:  2006-14

 

What Is ‘Architectural Identity’? Part IV

Stadium interior © minmud

 

Architecture has one main purpose and one only, to serve the needs of man. This could take on different forms, from the typical residential homes of individuals and families, office towers for businesses and corporations, shops for services and goods and so on. The point of architecture is to create inhabitable spaces for which can be occupied for whatever its main use is. How a building impacts an individual or a number of people depends on it as a whole, how does it work? How does it look? How long will it last? How does it improve my life? All these questions and more can greatly influence how a building is designed, constructed, funded, ultimately it can influence the very lifespan of a project, from concept design to completion. Looking towards the Tokyo Olympic 2020 stadium, how will it impact the general public? How will it affect the local residents, the city and the world in the long-run?

The stadium proposal seems adamant on making the building more flexible beyond the Olympic events, creating a venue that is more people-friendly and engaging, that can host various artistic and cultural events as well as benefiting the local district, the city and by extension, the country. With the built-in exhibition centre (a la Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion style), the stadium proposal tries to be more than just a sporting stadium, that it can adapt to the times and various possible functions. No doubt when the structure is completed that it will look stupendous and extravagant. Will it outshine the previous stadiums and ceremonies? Most definitely. With the whole Olympic festivities will bring to Japan a wealth of economic income and several hundreds of thousands tourists in.  The memorable event will give Japan the biggest global sporting competition stage (ignoring the FIFA World Cup), grabbing the world’s attention. The human factor when dealing with the Olympics is almost indescribable. Being there physically and taking part in the festivities and sporting events creates memorable moments in people, both local and visiting. Architecture, which has over the years been not just design, but also a form of communication and narrative in society, shaping our urban landscapes, defining our society in ways that are obvious and oblivious to us. Buildings have a way of becoming a small or big part of our lives, whether its somewhere we visited on holiday and remember fondly, a place where we first met our spouses, the first family home where all the kids grew up in, the same bar we go to every Friday night with our friends, whatever the situation, buildings tend to touch and influence us in the most peculiar ways sometimes.

Will Zaha Hadid’s proposal be a positive impact on the populace, not just during the Olympics but more importantly, afterwards? How will the legacy of the Games affect people 5, 10, 20 years after? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, examples of buildings that have that ‘human impact’ factor include: the wonderfully vivid and artsy Parc Guell, the botanic paradise that is known as the Gardens by the Bay, the highest of the high monolith Burj Khalifa, France’s most recognised structure, the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful existing structures found within the city of Petra, particularly the Al Khazneh.

 

Picture source: http://www.worldofdesigners.com
Picture source: http://www.worldofdesigners.com

Name: Parc Guell

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Architects: Antoni Gaudi

Date: 1900-14

 

Picture source: http://cdn.nanxiongnandi.com
Picture source: http://cdn.nanxiongnandi.com

Name: Gardens by the Bay

Location: Marina Bay, Singapore

Architects: Wilkinson Eyre Architects 

Date: 2012

 

Picture source: www.dubaidhow.com
Picture source: www.dubaidhow.com

Name: Burj Khalifa

Location: Dubai, UAE

Architects: Adrian Smith of SOM

Date: 2004-2010

 

Picture source: http://www.wallpaperswala.com
Picture source: http://www.wallpaperswala.com

Name: Eiffel Tower

Location: Paris, France

Architect/Engineers: Stephen Sauvestre/Gustav Eiffel, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier

Date: 2004-2010

 

 

Picture source: http://static.panoramio.com
Picture source: http://static.panoramio.com

Name: Al Khazneh

Location: Petra, Jordan

Architects: N/A

Date: 2012

 

 

 

What Is ‘Architectural Identity’? Part III

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium, Zaha Hadid © ZHA

Generally speaking, architecture has been around for thousands & thousands of years, ranging from Neolithic to Egyptian, Greek and Roman. It has developed and expanded from numerous cultures, traditions, styles, human impact, periodic times, religion and natural phenomena.  Architecture is naturally one of the oldest crafts of the ‘design’ industry and has continued to be one of the greatest human contributions to society. Architecture is more than just a building, whether it is a private house, an office block or a shopping centre. The craft has the opportunity to become something that impacts people, to create such an impact on society that it becomes a iconic structure, rich with history that redefines the narrative and shape of the urban landscape, becoming a significant, memorable part of people’s lives and remaining timeless throughout the ages. That is part of the power of architecture, so with that in mind, looking back at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Stadium proposal, we can try to understand what Zaha Hadid is trying to achieve through her design.

 

With it’s overarching curves and contextual dominance, the structure location is said to be in the Jingu area, one of “Tokyo Vision 2020″‘ sport designated areas. The area is nearby Yoyogi Park, located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, the capital city of Japan. Yoyogi Park is close to Harajuku Station, and other landmarks in the area include the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. The park is noted also for its cherry blossom trees, alongside it’s featured sport courts, bike pathways, bike rentals & picnic areas. The park is also a popular venue for Japanese rock music concerts. The site is also historic for being the location of Japan’s first successful aircraft took flight in 1910, later becoming an army parade vicinity. Projected to be completed by 2019, the stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as sporting events, including athletics, rugby & soccer.  The owners, Japan Sport Council, have plans for the stadium to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019. The Olympic Stadium, as well as most of the other Olympic venues are all located within the ‘Heritage Zone’ & “Tokyo Bay Zone”, each zone approximately 8000m in diameter (https://tokyo2020.jp/en/plan/venue/).

 

Map of Olympic Zone ©tokyo2020.jp
Map of Olympic Zone ©tokyo2020.jp

 

In the on-going debate of whether the stadium is ‘worth its weight’ (long-term) in size and cost, many believe it will set a new precedent in reshaping the urban context of the site’s location, bringing social, sporting and economical benefits as well as becoming a lasting legacy for Japan. Without trying to sound to cynical, the general purpose of an Olympic Bid is ‘lasting legacy’ and that’s what becomes the main focus of everything from national support, to funding, to venues. A quote from Tadao Ando (Chairman of the competition panel) states: “The entry’s dynamic and futuristic design embodies the messages Japan would like to convey to the rest of the world. I believe this stadium will become a shrine for world sport for the next 100 years”. Others disagree, such as Fumihiko Maki who mentions: “The problems I see with the planned stadium all relate to the issue of scale”, whilst claiming the design itself it’s at fault but needs to be reduced in size and become more sustainable. There are those who are in favour of the proposal stating that scaling it back in size would cause more problems then necessary: “”The articulation, how [the design] manifests itself, really needs to come from a single vision, otherwise there won’t be authorship, there won’t be an authentic voice behind it…you get that in all good buildings, all good pieces of design”.

Contextual landscape © Tokyo Olympic bid
Contextual landscape © Tokyo Olympic bid

 

Due to the public outcry of the Japanese public as well as many in the architectural business, the Japan Sport Council have stated that they would scale down the proposed floor plan by one-quarter, according to IBTimes. Reducing the floor area will cut costs down to 180 billion yen, whilst keeping with majority of the design scheme and height estimations, even though many are saying that the reduced cost is still higher then originally pledged during the initial stages. But whether this structure will become a positive influence on the contextual layout and the social impact of the district (and city), only time will tell. There are many buildings that have impacted their respective locations and citizens, but how many buildings have last for hundreds of years that are still with us today? Examples of some buildings that have historical and cultural impact includes the dramatic Sydney Opera House, the prominent Empire State Building, the majestic Taj Mahal, the elegant Louvre and the galactic Cathedral of Brasilia. 

Picture source: seesydneypass.iventurecard.com
Picture source: seesydneypass.iventurecard.com

Name: Sydney Opera House

Location: Sydney, Australia

Architect: Jørn Oberg Utzon

Date: 1959-73

 

Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/
Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/

Name: Empire State Building

Location: New York City, USA

Architects: Shreve, Lamb and Harmon

Date: 1929-31

 

Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org
Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org

Name: Taj Mahal

Location: Agra, India

Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri

Date: 1632–53

 

Picture source: http://wallpaperstock.net
Picture source: http://wallpaperstock.net

Name: The Louvre

Location: Paris, France

Architect: I.M. Pei (Pyramid)

Date: 12th Century (Palace) 1989 (Pyramid)

 

Picture source: architecture.about.com
Picture source: architecture.about.com

Name: Cathedral of Brasilia

Location: Brasilia, Brazil

Architect: Oscar Niemeyer

Date: 1958-70