Tokyo 2020 organisers unveil gymnastics venue inspired by Japanese architecture

Organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have unveiled a custom-built $188 million gymnastics venue inspired by Japanese architecture that uses wood brought from around the country.

The futuristic-looking Ariake Gymnastics Centre in central Tokyo uses 2,300 cubic metres of wood and is intended to hark back to traditional building techniques that predated the use of modern materials.

The structure features a gently undulating roof, with external walls constructed from lengths of cedar wood.

Supporting rods allow the building to look from a distance as though it is suspended in the air.

Organisers said it was intended to look like a “a wooden bowl, floating in the bay area.”

The building, one of a handful custom-built for the 2020 Games, “symbolises Japan’s wood culture and viewers can feel its simple beauty.”

“We’re using a lot of wood,” venue general manager, Koichi Fukui, told reporters. “We can smell wood and feel the warmth of wood.”

Built at a cost of ¥20.5 billion, the venue features a domed ceiling constructed from Japanese larch with no steel framework and is among the largest of its kind in the world.

The venue can seat 12,000 spectators on long benches placed around the space.

The main Olympic Stadium, designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, also heavily features the use of wood in a nod to traditional techniques.

The gymnastics venue is a temporary site, which is expected to be converted into an exhibition centre after the Games.

Organisers say they plan to repurpose some of the wood from the site, including the benches, in the exhibition centre and other sites including schools.

This report was originally released on The Japan Times.