Brutalist gymnasium’s future still unclear 

The Kenzo Tange-designed Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium may be tumbling closer to demolition as earthquake-retrofitting seems to be more challenging and costly than anticipated.

The brutalist curved concrete structure, resembling a boat, was completed by the famed architect in 1964 – the same year that the landmark Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo opened. 

In 2012, the inside of the gymnasium was declared off-limits due to the risk of falling ceiling boards. Back in 2014 the local government called for tenders for earthquake retrofitting but failed to attract any bids. The Board of Education budgeted over 1 billion Yen at the time for a contractor but the unusual structure and rising construction costs meant that no companies were interested in taking on the job.

A more recent estimate of repairs and retrofitting had put the potential cost at closer to 1.8 billion Yen (approx. US$12 million).

The Association to Revitalize Kagawa Boat Gymnasium has proposed converting it into an extreme sports stadium with skateboard and BMX courses. The proposal suggests removing the existing roof and reinforcing the walls. Proposals from other operators have also suggested roof removal in order to carry out retrofitting. 

According to the Board of Education, none of the proposals had any clear numbers on retrofitting costs or a timeline for recouping the investment outlay.

Next year, the prefecture’s new gymnasium will be completed, leaving the future of this brutalist landmark up in the air. 

Sources: 
The Sankei Shimbun, September 4, 2022.
Nikkei Business Publications, July 30, 2021.

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