Enjoy an Olympic view as The Orbit re-opens to the public
Nearly two years after the London Olympics, The Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is finally set to re-open. Standing at 114.5 metre (376 feet) tall, ArcelorMittal Orbit is Britain’s tallest sculpture. Along with the London Eye and The Shard, The Orbit provides stunning views of London, looking over the capital from the east.
The Orbit was a winning design in a competition in 2009, conceived by Shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and London Mayor Boris Johnson, who believed the Olympic Park needed an ‘Olympic Tower’. The same year, Britain’s richest man, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal became interested in the project and offered to contribute funding towards it. In March 2010, Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s Orbit design was selected from a shortlist of three. Construction began in November 2010 and was unveiled to the public in May 2012 – two months before the London Olympics.
The structure comprises of two parts – a grey ‘trunk’ containing the stairs, elevators and topped by the observation desk. A lot of the ‘trunk’ is obscured by the twisting red lattice steel winding its way around the structure. It was made using 2000 tons of steel – from Mittal’s ArcelorMittal plants and recycled steel from Luxembourg. It stands tall at 114.5 metre (376 feet), making it the tallest sculpture in the UK. The observation tower is across two levels with a capacity for 150 people.
Public and press reaction to the Orbit has undoubtedly been mixed. It is a very contemporary piece and not to everyone’s taste. However, when it re-opens to the public in April 2014 as part of the regeneration of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I’m sure there are many who will appreciate the view from the structure while perhaps not liking the design. The Orbit reopens on 5 April and will now include new digital interpretation’ and visitor facilities. Hopefully it will fare better than the Emirates Air Line cable car, which hasn’t been used as much as hoped since the Olympics and Paralympics ended.
- The Orbit, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E15 2NG. Nearest tube/train: Stratford. Tickets: Adults £15, Children £7 (Local residents of Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest get £2 off). For more information and booking, visit the ArcelorMittal Orbit website.
For further blog posts on the Olympic Park, read London Anniversary Games: An afternoon of nostalgia and triumph over adversity or It’s been a wild ride! Reflecting on my London Olympics experience