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).  

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