The row over the new national stadium in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, looks set to run and run. It had been suggested that the architects behind the design, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), should give up copyright for its designs in exchange for the Tokyo 2020 stadium designs. ZHA, however, is standing firm, believing the money is owed to them, and they are not willing to hand over their intellectual property rights for the shelved plans.
According to ZHA, the Japan Sports Council (JSC) requested that the contract should be altered to effectively transfer Zaha’s copyright for the arena designs to JSC in exchange for the final payment, which is already overdue. There is also allegedly a ‘gagging’ clause that would prohibit any employee of ZHA from passing comment on any subsequent firm’s plans.
To this point, ZHA has rejected all requests from JSC and awaits payment for the work carried out last year – money owed from March to July 2015.
JSC appears to have chosen a relatively more modest design, at least in monetary terms, as the Hadid design would have been the most expensive stadium ever built.
ZHA originally won a competition to design the 80,000-capacity stadium, which saw a masterclass of bespoke tensile fabric structures entered, but escalating costs have ended the project. Architecture firms such as http://fabricarchitecture.com can outline why this format is so popular for this type of building.
The row has erupted because a spokesman from ZHA has noted similarities between the new design and the original winning proposal, as Dezeen Magazine outlines.
London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects confirmed in a statement that the Japan Sports Council had requested in writing that the contract be modified and copyright transferred, and also that the request had been rejected. ZHA also confirmed that they have been chasing payment since October for the work carried out by their team (engineers and architects numbering over one hundred, both on-site in Japan and back in the United Kingdom) and that of other contractors.
It is difficult to see a happy resolution to this issue, and as ZHA has already advised that they will seek advice and take legal action if the issues over copyright and payment persist without resolution, it looks like a story set to run and run.