2 April 2010

The ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower

People will love it or loathe it but London will soon have a new and truly twenty first century tower to coincide with its hosting of the Olympic Games in 2012.

The Orbit as it is called at the moment is going to be the biggest piece of artwork in Britain ever. However it is already gathering new nicknames, such as the Collossus of Stratford (where it will be built) or the Hubble Bubble. Inaugurated on 31 March 2010 it has been designed by the architect Anish Kapoor.

For something that looks as if it should not be able to stand upright for very long, Kapoor has called in one of the most talented structural engineers in the world, Cecil Balmon. The tower will, when built stand almost one hundred and twenty meters in height. It will take one thousand four hundred tonnes of steel to build the colossal structure. Building will start very soon and is due to be completed by November 2011. Then, London will have a new and permanent feature on its landscape to rival the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower.

The whole thing will cost almost twenty million pounds but the hit on the pocket of the British taxpayer is thought to be minimal. The bulk of the steel is to be donated by Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate and co-owner of the ArcelorMittal company – the largest steel company on the planet. In fact they will be funding the project to the tune of sixteen million pounds and the rest will be paid by the London Development Agency.

The architect, Kapoor has tried to reinvigorate the idea of what a tower should be. The twists and turns of the Orbit are intended to give a sensation of instability and give the impression of something continually in motion. By avoiding the traditional pyramidal shape of a tower he hopes to create a flowing and fluid form that continually changes as people walk around it.

On the top of the tower there will be something that is destined to become the number one tourist attraction in London – the must go to place that people will talk about for years after their departure from the city. A viewing platform. Twenty two meters higher than the Statue of Liberty this will give visitors a new view of London that they will never forget.

In a nutshell, if you think fine art meets the London Eye you are on the right track. Take a look at the YouTube video released to coincide with the inauguration of Orbit.