The final loop of London’s ArcellorMittal Orbit was installed last Friday, completing what BDOnline calls the “mutant child of the Eiffel and Tatlin towers.” The 560m of writhing red steel was the brainchild of Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, and their tangled sculpture now looms 115m above London’s Olympic Park.
The project is funded largely by ArcellorMittal steel, with less than 15% of the cost supported by the London Development Agency. Intended to add the extra flare needed to compete with Beijing’s iconic bird’s nest in the 2008 Olympics, the Orbit is a grotesque architectural pariah in a park of restrained, structurally simple stadiums.
The 2,000-ton tangle of steel is expected to attract millions of visitors a year, whisking them up by elevator to a suspended two-story viewing platform and sending them back down a clumsy spiral staircase designed by Ushida Findlay Architects. Cecil Balmond explained how the Orbit’s unequivocally non-linear form was intended to make people “forget the engineering, the construction, the materials and simply ‘experience’ it.”
Despite these words, many are quick to denounce this monstrous Watson and Crick helix before experiencing its tangled loops firsthand. BDOnline’s Oliver Wainwright views the structure as a parody of the reserved aesthetic of London’s Olympic Park, claiming that the Orbit is so viscerally grotesque that it is almost likable. He writes, “If nothing else, it will no doubt be a favorite amongst those who play Venturi Scott Brown’s game, ‘I can like something worse than you can like.’”
[Images via BDOnline]