A couple of weeks ago, Florian Bush Architects based in Tokyo received a strange package : a squared black box with the postmark “2020.12.22”, containing a selection of magazines, models, and polaroid photos from the prospective timeline of japan’s olympic stadium.
The stadium was originally supposed to be designed by Zaha Hadid until the japanese government decided otherwise because of the insane budget for building the project. Kengo Kuma is now the one responsible for designing the stadium. However, what received Florian Busch Architects tells an another story :
The project of Kengo Kuma was rejected and instead, a floating stadium was built, able to travel to each future locations of the olympics which could answer to the financial issues of hosting the olympics. But not everyone were agreed on that idea, the potential olympics cities too far away from the seashores to receive the stadium feared to be disqualified as future hosts.
On one morning, the stadium disappeared and was declaring missing.
You can read the full original text at the end of the post.
Text from the package
1. Floating stadium
After several plans to build a new National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo had been cancelled, the embarrassment was redeemed by an almost happy ending.
In July of 2020, the New National Stadium, a ship, anchored under Odaiba’s Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo became the first host of an era of a newfound Olympic spirit. Instead of another reincarnation of a white elephant, the new stadium would not only differentiate the Tokyo Games by ending the ever more ridiculously anachronistic race to outdo its predecessor but give the entire Olympic idea a much needed boost. The stadium, after the Tokyo Games, would travel the world from one Olympic host city to the next in what was to become an exciting Olympic Journey for decades to come.
2. Success story
Quickly disproving the initial wholesale criticism that a floating structure would not be suitable for sports events, the unexpected stadium design struck many chords:
with the athletes who enjoyed the cooling effects achieved by the smart design’s use of the location on open water. The organisers’ insistence on the for Tokyo irresponsible timing in the midst of the summer heat was so controversial that many athletes who had before threatened to stay away were lured back by the prospect of competing in a “Stadium on the Sea”;
with the locals in Sendagaya, who had, after years of agony, been presented with a completely unexpected gift: where there had once been the old —and in the process prematurely demolished— stadium and where most residents had succumbed to the idea that their neighbourhood was to be dwarfed by a far too big structure, which in rounds of embarrassing decisions had become a hastily assembled design of unmitigated mediocrity before the entire idea was abandoned, the void in the middle of the city was all of a sudden allowed to become a green refuge for all;
with several members of the national sports committee who felt they had at last been provided an escape-pod: Increasingly plagued by their self-inflicted Procrustean angst, they immediately saw the immense potential of the flexibility a moving stadium would give them;
with environmentalists around the globe who hailed the inherently sustainable character of such a stadium;
with the preservationists: not only was the stadium no longer imposing on their prized Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery and the Jingu Gaien park, it was soon going to leave for good. And even for the short time of its presence, the fact that much of the stadium would be under water was greeted as the perfect response to their most ailing issue: height. A concern which was widely considered funny to be still relevant given that the new context was more sensitive to depth than height;
3. Collective envy
Just when almost everyone seemed happy, the idea was, before taking off after an extremely successful Olympics in Tokyo, drowned by the massive protests from those potential Olympic cities too far away from the seashores to ever receive the stadium, fearing that their location woulda priori disqualify them as future hosts.
A mere two days after the closing ceremony, during which the stadium had actually lifted its anchors and loosened its ties in an emotionally loaded gesture that the Olympics were ending and beginning at the same time, as the Olympic journey was continuing, voices around the world started a heated debate over the stadium’s future. The stadium found itself in a limbo: Tokyo insisted on sending it off as had been meticulously planned —on the first Monday of 2021— after a grand New Year’s Eve finale under Tokyo Gate Bridge; several cities, who saw their own chances to become future hosts diminished by a floating stadium, called for a delay until another solution was found.
Meanwhile, the stadium steadily made money by touring Tokyo Bay and its estuaries on a packed calendar of events.
But two months before the Grand Finale, in the morning of an unusually foggy first of November, the stadium had disappeared. In the beginning, it was simply assumed that it had, a little earlier than scheduled, relocated to another part of Tokyo Bay for the next event. Until, after several hours of reconnaissance, the stadium was declared missing. The news spread quickly. Among many initial rumours, two theories became the most often cited: One claimed that it had been stolen by a collective of all those envious cities and, considering the effort which they would have had to invest in this kind of hijacking venture, was almost certain never to be found again. Another, not completely implausible theory was that, as a precautionary measure, officials had taken the initiative and sealed the stadium before tying it to the bottom of the sea until all disputes were settled. Many privately funded diving teams tried but were prevented from search missions, allegedly because of safety concerns, only fuelling the speculation that it must be down there…
4. Collective effort
The planning and construction achieved something hitherto unheard of: Shipbuilders —after years of dwindling work overjoyed by this unsuspected chance to show their prowess in a project of international prestige— and general contractors joined forces. Over a for the scale ridiculously short three years, the best of what the nation had to offer turned the radical into the real. The same Olympic spirit that had once, nearly six decades earlier, conquered the hearts and astonishment of the world, did it again, this time showing how a mature nation had taken the lead towards an era of a new sense and sensibility.