Japan's Olympic Aquatic Center Design May Fall Flat

Japanese Olympic Swimmers

Image source: Abc.net

In case you haven’t already heard (which seems unlikely, considering all of the press it got) Japan won the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020. Obviously, Japan has some pretty big shoes to fill. Beijing set the bar with their iconic Beijing Water Cube, the gorgeous Bird’s Nest Stadium, and an opening ceremony that likely won’t be topped anytime soon. London’s display was pretty impressive, but it was a far cry from the architectural marvels in Beijing. Will Japan be able to one-up its neighbor to the west?

Japan already has the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, which is a massive swimming pool capable of hosting over 3,000 spectators. While that would dwarf most other swimming pools, is still a far cry from an Olympic-level stadium. The Tokyo Olympic Committee plans to build a stadium capable of hosting a whopping 20,000 spectators. Compared to other Olympic host cities, the London Aquatic Center could hold 17,500 spectators and the Beijing National Aquatics Center could hold 18,000.

Once the games are over, they plan on keeping the pool but remodeling the building so that it can hold about 2,500 spectators. The pool will eventually become available to the public, and it will also be used for races and other aquatic events.

Japan Aquatics Center

Image source: Swimswam.com

The interior will be impressive, but what about the outside?  The Tokyo’s Tatsumi Seaside Park Aquatics Center is, well… a bit dull, to be honest. The pair of buildings is a far cry from the bubbly Water Cube or Rio’s reflective aquatics stadium. That might be because the Japanese are more concerned with logistics than aesthetics — and understandably so. The current plan is for 95% of the Olympic Games to all take place within a 5-mile radius, which will officially make the Japan 2020 games the most compact games in history. Considering the larger-than-ever aquatics center and the smaller-than-ever Olympic grounds, we can forgive Japanese architects for being a bit conservative in their designs.

Proposed Aquatics Center

Image source: Swimcoachtools.com

But I might be too quick to judge. The architectural group Zaha Hadid recently unveiled their plans for the stadium, and it might give the Bird’s Nest a run for its money. Is this sleek design a taste of things to come with the Japanese Aquatics Center, or will they stick with the mundane golf ball-esque design?

Japan Olympic Stadium

Image source: Inhabitat.com

The interior is also pretty impressive:

Japan Olympic Stadium

Image source: Inhabitat.com

How well do you think Japan’s stadiums hold up to the Olympic stadiums of earlier games?

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