Tokyo 2020: An Architectural Philosophy for Modern Times

Tokyo 2020: An Architectural Philosophy for Modern Times

From the iconic stadium in ancient Olympia, to the hyper modern structures that amaze us each period, architecture has been one of the main characters in the history of the Olympic Games. The way in which these buildings have evolved can tell us a lot about the development of disciplines and sports but also about the evolution of humankind itself.

The transformation of the stadiums and venues responds to certain functionality requirements, cultural aspects and architectural currents. There are also several ethical, economical, ecological and political aspects involved due to the inevitable impact that each host country faces. It’s important to address these issues in order to preserve the games’ integrity and essence of common wellbeing, fellowship and empathy. 

Tokyo 2020 has been a particularly challenging edition: this unprecedented global crisis presented several scenarios that no one could have imagined a couple of years ago. In addition, the urgency to address the environmental crisis prevails when dealing with an event of this magnitude. The strategic solution that Japan executed is historical and sets a high standard for future games.

The Committee implemented a philosophy of sustainability that deserves admiration. This was achieved by building responsibly and also repurposing and using spaces that were built decades ago for the last Olympic Games set in the city, in 1964. This is a great response to the tremendous amount of economic and natural resources that are spent in the construction of impressive new buildings. And for those activities that do require new premises, it’s important to imagine ways in which they can offer long term benefits for the city’s population.

Another impressive achievement is the Olympic Village, which hosts all the visitors from throughout the world. This complex includes apartment blocks around an all-timer, recyclable plaza with a store, a cafe and a media centre. The materials used were provided by different Japanese municipalities, where they will be returned in order to be used again for benches and schools. 


The ostentation of extravagant architectural monuments and millionaire expenditures must be left in the past for good. The architectural and creative challenge that we’re facing nowadays will set the path for a new chapter in the history of architecture. It’s up to us to imagine new ways in which we can imprint sensitivity, responsibility and a deep sense of humanity in urban planning and construction. 


  • Rowan Moore, “Tokyo’s Olympic architecture: look, no Bird’s Nest…”, The Guardian,
  • Sara Johnson, “The Architecture of the Olympics”, Architect Magazine, https://www.architectmagazine.com/design/the-architecture-of-the-olympics_o

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