Saturday19 August 2017

Kuma denies copying Hadid

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Japanese architect returns fire in row with architect over Tokyo Olympic stadium design

Kengo Kuma has denied that he borrowed parts of the design submitted by Zaha Hadid for Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium.

Hadid has said the new design bore striking similarities to the original. Kuma’s winning design was chosen late last year after Hadid’s were scrapped last summer.

“In the design, I would like to say there are no similarities at all,” the Guardian reported Kuma as saying.

Kuma said both architects had to meet strict requirements for the 80,000-seat stadium, which will be built on the site of the now demolished national stadium used when Tokyo last hosted the summer Games in 1964.


Design A - Tokyo Olympic stadium

Kengo Kuma’s winning design


“The conditions set for the competition mean that automatically some similarities emerge,” he said, adding that “the concept is completely different, so it is absolutely a different building, despite the similarities”.

Zaha Hadid Architects is threatening legal action against its client, the Japan Sports Council (JSC) on the Tokyo stadium if a dispute over copyright, fees and the practice’s “humiliation” is not resolved.

It also issued the results of its own investigation into alleged similarities between its design and Kuma’s replacement and concluded these were “significant”.

It added: “Following a thorough investigation ZHA has submitted a report to the JSC detailing the significant similarities between the structure, layout and numerous elements of the original detailed design for the national stadium for Japan and the latest designs.

“This document will form the basis for the discussions we hope to resume shortly with the JSC to resolve the important issue of the use of valuable design work that is currently the copyright of ZHA and the original design team.”

The JSC declined to comment because it was “currently in negotiation with Zaha Hadid Architects about payment based on cancellation of the contract”.



Readers' comments (9)


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  • Andrew Jones

    @ Jaffer Khan - http://netiquette.wikia.com/wiki/Rule_number_2_-_Do_not_use_all_caps

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  • craig wilson

    BD -can we please have some side by side images of where said design is supposed to be plagiarised so that we can come to our own conclusions before we all climb onto our respective high horses and gallop away with this story?

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  • @Jaffer Khan
    ZHA appears to hold no PATENT on any aspects of the design and has never claimed to. You should make an effort to understand intellectual property terminology before making all sorts of FULL CAPS claims.
    Inasmuch as the ZHA design may resemble other stadia in layout, organisation, structure etc., ZHA will have no standing to claim copyright either, as such aspects would constitute a "state of the art" (unless of course ZHA copied innovations from prior designs :-) ).
    The same applies to any aspects of the above which can be described as contextually or constructionally self-evident, and therfore not demonstrably innovative, unique and/or especially characteristic of the design. This would apply for example to entrances or circulation in obvious places and arrangements, structural or constructional methods which are self-evidently efficient, economical or contextually appropriate and the like. Again, here any copyright claim would be unsuccessful.
    Especially where a design has not been built (where the copyright claim would address changes to an existing scheme which might ruin its core intent), such claims are notoriously difficult to prosecute, even more so internationally.
    Generally and for good reason, architects do not register patents or industrial designs in a WIPO-enforceable manner, relying on automatic Berne Convention-type copyright protection, which is notoriously weak in many areas - architectural similarity being one of them, and actually for very good reasons.

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  • If, as might be prudent, ZHA was already suing for loss of future and expected profits as part of their outstanding fee claim since they had been thrown off early (although their public statements imply otherwise, talking about it as a fee for "months of work") then one would be talking about a serious amount of money for no return for the client. Whatever the merits of the termination, it appears to me highly disingenuous on the part of ZHA to talk about such things as "humiliation" etc. when it is clear that in a situation like this, both sides are playing hardball.

    I would imagine JSC have their ducks well lined up on the question of why a new tender was necessary - how many chances ZHA were given to value engineer the scheme, how ZHA failed to do so, how ZHA's poor track record of budget overrruns on other projects factored in to the unfortunate decision, how ZHA were offered the opportunity to bid again, how ZHA didn't get their bid togther etc. etc. If this were not the case, I'm pretty certain JSC wouldn't have let the situation degenerate to this.

    I predict an unhappy ending.

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  • craig wilson

    This is a good primer on the difficulties with architectural copyright -even some iconic shapes could be "copied" under fair use principles -see (flick through the slides for more):


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  • At this rate ZaHaHa will claim rights for the design of all toilets given her work for “ROCA” and the characteristics of many of her designs!!!! A busted flush if ever there was one?

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  • Jaffer, sounds like you have worked in Zaha's office.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    The idea that Kengo Kuma would want to copy anything by Zaha Hadid is just laughable.

    The fact is that if you give different teams of architects the same brief and the same constraints, some of them will come up with remarkably similar ideas. Anyone who's ever judged a competition will know this.

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