Since its construction finished in 1958, Japan’s National Stadium in Shinjuku, Tokyo has served its nation proud. It was the field of play for the 1964 Summer Olympics and survived the 2011 Tohoku earthquake unscathed.

However, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup scheduled, it was time for a makeover to the tune of (pinky finger to lips) a billion dollars!

The International Design Competition was held this year to determine the new look for the National Stadium.  A jury headed by renowned architect Tadao Ando was tasked to choose from 46 entries, 12 of which were from Japan and the rest from abroad.

After a preliminary examination, the submissions were shortlisted to 11 (4 Japan, 7 abroad).  When the final decision was reached, the announcement was made by Ando, Chairman Sato (no relation to Mr. Sato), and the president of Japan Sport Counsel, Ichiro Kono.

The winning design (picture above) was submitted by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. Her design should go ahead as planned but she is allowed to revise it if needed.

Demolition of the old stadium is expected to begin in July 2014 with construction of the new set to take place in October 2015. The whole 290,000m2 stadium should get wrapped up in March 2019, just in time for the Rugby World Cup.

Internet reaction was mixed – I think. One person mentioned that it looked straight out of Final Fantasy. However, going by people’s comments it’s hard to say if they like it or not.  They just compared it to things like a stag beetles, plastic lunch containers, spaceships, squid bones, female genitalia, or manta rays – none of which are bad things.

Looking at the other 11 finalists pictured below, I’m not sure the jury made the best choice.  Personally I’m partial to Entry No. 26.  Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think the best choice could have been!

Source: Japan Sports Council (English) via Itai News (Japanese)

Winning Entry

▼ No.17 Zaha Hadid Architects – Zaha Hadid (GBR)

Second Place

▼ No. 2 Cox Architecture pty Ltd. – Alastair Ray Richardson (AUS)

Third Place

▼ No. 34 SANAA + Nikken Sekkei Ltd. – Kazuyo Sejima (JPN)

Other Finalists

▼ No. 9 Populous – Rod Sheard (GBR)

▼ No. 12 UNStudio/Yamashita Sekkei Inc. – UNStudio VAN BERKEL EN BOS U.N. STUDIO B.V (NED)


▼ No. 24 Tabanlioglu Architects Consultancy Limited Company – Ihsan Murat Tabanlioglu (TUR)


▼ No. 26 Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane / Architects & A+Architecture – Tsuyoshi Tane (FRA)


▼ No. 32 Azusa Sekkei Co.,Ltd. – Fumihiko Sugitani (JPN)


▼ No. 33 Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects – Toyo Ito (JPN)

▼ No. 35 gmpInternational GmbH – Hubert Nienhoff (GER)


▼ No. 37 Mitsuru Man Senda and Environment Design Institute – Junko Senda (JPN)