August 9, 2012


Towering over Olympic Park is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Britain's largest piece of public art. Designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, it was the winner of a competition after London's Mayor and the Olympics Minister decided the Olympic Park was missing a signature structure. We found out we were allowed in during mornings just before it opens to the public, so we took advantage of the opportunity. Within its spaces, it's far more impressive and beautiful than I expected or imagined viewing it from the ground. The story and design impressions are pretty interesting, and the best roundup seems to be it's Wikipedia page. Quoting from Wikipedia: "Kapoor said that one of the influences on his design was the Tower of Babel, the sense of "building the impossible" that "has something mythic about it.", and that the form "straddles Eiffel and Tatlin". Balmond, working on the metaphor of an orbit, envisaged an electron cloud moving, to create a structure that appears unstable, propping itself up, "never centred, never quite vertical". Both believe that Orbit represents a new way of thinking, "a radical new piece of structure and architecture and art" that uses non-linearity – the use of "instabilities as stabilities.'" There's a lot more worth checking out on that page, so I'll just link to it below. From the top, you can see into the Olympic Stadium, where we were even able to watch the hurdles event from the Decathlon. It was also fun to see the perplexed but amused reaction of the police officers and soldiers to the mirrored art piece inside. Like the Eiffel Tower when it was new, the Orbit is often derided; but I suspect that also like the Eiffel Tower, in time it will find a place in the hearts of quite a few residents and visitors.
  • Wikipedia: ArcelorMittal Orbit
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