Britain's biggest piece of public art, but is this £19m tower of twisted metal a fitting monument for the London 2012 Olympics?

By Paul Harris
Last updated at 12:24 PM on 1st April 2010

It looks like a catastrophic collision between two cranes on the Olympic site.

But this towering, twisted mass of metal will be Britain's lasting monument to the nation's role in hosting the 2012 games.

Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor unveiled his design for the £19million sculpture yesterday, a ruby red, helter skelter-style structure that, at 377ft, will stand more than twice as tall as Nelson's column.

Scroll down for our video report

Enlarge   Arcelormittal Orbit structure -

Landmark: The tower has been dubbed the 'Hubble Bubble' by London Mayor Boris Johnson

It was instantly nicknamed the Eyeful Tower - and likened enthusiastically by London Mayor Boris Johnson to a giant 'hubble-bubble' shisha pipe.

But contributors to Twitter and similar internet sites took only minutes to criticise the work. One described it as 'a rollercoaster that costs £19million a go'. Other early phrases included 'twisted spaghetti', 'horrific squiggles' and 'Meccano on crack'.

Work on the officially-named ArcelorMittal Orbit, which will house a restaurant and viewing platform, has yet to start - and it still needs planning permission.

About 700 visitors an hour will be able to visit the site next to the 193 feet high Olympic stadium. The tower will have a viewing platform and an outdoor walkway.

At its unveiling today, Kapoor, 56, said it was 'thrilling' to be offered the chance to create for the capital something on a par with what Gustave Eiffel made in Paris

Enlarge   Arcelormittal Orbit

Britian's biggest piece of public art: At 115 metres high, the steel tower will be taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York

 

'It would be terribly arrogant to compete with Eiffel who spent his entire life making that thing,' said Kapoor. 'What we’re trying to make is the best thing we can do'.

The artist sees his looping, deep red-coloured tower as 'an eccentric structure that looks as if it’s going to fall over'.

It is being created with the aid of Cecil Balmond, deputy chairman of Arup engineers, with whom Kapoor created the red trumpet, Marsyas, for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2002.

Financing deals have been signed between principal backer Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate who is the fifth richest man in the world, who has committed £16million towards the £19.1million cost, and Mr Johnson, who dreamed up the project.

Bemused: London mayor Boris Johnson likened the tower to to a giant shisha pipe
Boris Johnson

Bemused: Boris Johnson tries to make sense of the tower, which he likened to a shisha pipe

Boris Johnson
London mayor Boris Johnson likened the tower to to a giant 'hubble-bubble' shisha pipe


It is hoped work will begin within weeks on what officially will be called the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Mr Johnson said: 'Some will say we are nuts - in the depths of a recession - to be building Britain’s biggest ever piece of public art.

'But Tessa Jowell [the Olympics minister] and I are certain that this is the right thing for the Stratford site, in Games time and beyond.'

Mr Mittal, whose company will supply much of the 1,400 tons of steel, said he had wanted to give 'a lasting gift' to the 'wonderful” city' where he has lived since 1997.

Businessman Lakshmi Mittal (right) jokes with London mayor Boris Johnson at City Hall before unveiling a scale model of the proposed ArcelorMittal Orbit tower

Amusing: Businessman Lakshmi Mittal (right) jokes with Mr Johnson at City Hall before unveiling a scale model of the proposed ArcelorMittal Orbit tower

Architect Anish Kapoor with the scale model of the tower. The full-size structure will be sited next to the Olympic stadium for the 2012 games

Towering: Architect Anish Kapoor with the scale model of the tower. The full-size structure will be sited next to the Olympic stadium for the 2012 games


 

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

I think a giant version of Marcel DuChamp's fountain(1917) would be more appropriate.

Click to rate     Rating   4

I honestly thought this was an April Fool

Click to rate     Rating   9

"Putting my feeling into words: it looks geriatric, like a stooping old person leaning on a cane or like a dilapidated roller coaster"

Just sums up the state of this once great country, another £19m wasted on this sham enough said

Click to rate     Rating   2

Putting my feeling into words: it looks geriatric, like a stooping old person leaning on a cane or like a dilapidated roller coaster.

Click to rate     Rating   3

I pity a lot of these people commenting, it's a shame the life expectancy is rising, as that will mean they will be around for a bit longer.

This sculpture is not 'rusty' it will be a mirrored finish in a maroon colour.
The upkeep of the tower will be paid for by itself in terms of the restaurant and viewing platform.
Could you imagine would this country would be like if absolutely every single penny went on hospitals...which is what everyone on here seems to want.

WHY ON EARTH IS EVERYTHING MEASURED IN BABY INCUBATORS!?!?!

You lot are more the joke of the country than any politician.

Click to rate     Rating   17

I love the curly wurly!!!

I hope it happens.

Click to rate     Rating   3

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