ArcelorMittal Orbit by Anish Kapoor


Artist Anish Kapoor has won a commission to design a 115m high public artwork at Olympic Park in London, to be built as part of London's Olympic Games in 2012.

The sculpture, called ArcelorMittal Orbit, has been designed in collaboration with structural engineer Cecil Balmond of Arup. Top image courtesy of Arup.

Here's the press release:



The ArcelorMittal Orbit set to become UK’s largest sculpture. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, today unveiled the artist and design chosen to create a spectacular new visitor attraction in the Olympic Park.

Award winning London-based artist Anish Kapoor has been given the commission of a lifetime to design the spectacular new public attraction in the Olympic Park. The stunning artwork, to be entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’, will ensure the Park remains an unrivalled visitor destination following the 2012 Games, providing the key Olympic legacy Mayor of London Boris Johnson envisaged for the East End.

The breathtaking sculpture – thought to be the tallest in the UK - will consist of a continuous looping lattice of tubular steel. Standing at a gigantic 115m, it will be 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and offer unparalleled views of the entire 250 acres of the Olympic Park and London’s skyline from a special viewing platform. Visitors will be able to take a trip up the statuesque structure in a huge lift and will have the option of walking down the spiralling staircase.

One of the world's most distinguished contemporary artists, Turner Prize winning Anish Kapoor studied in London, where he is now based. He is well known for his use of rich pigment and imposing, yet popular works, such as the vast, fleshy and trumpet-like Marsyas, which filled the Tate's Turbine Hall as part of the Unilever Series, the giant reflecting, pod like sculpture Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park and his recent record breaking show at the Royal Academy, the most successful exhibition ever presented by a contemporary artist in London.

Anish Kapoor’s proposal has been developed in collaboration with one of the world’s leading structural designers, Cecil Balmond of Arup. Balmond, who trained and lives in London, is known for his innovative work on some of the greatest contemporary buildings in the world, such as the CCTV building in Beijing, as well as numerous Serpentine Gallery pavilion commissions. The two began working together on the Marsyas project in 2002 and have become renowned for their ambitious, large-scale public art projects.

ArcelorMittal will fund up to £16million of the £19.1million project with the outstanding £3.1 million provided by the London Development Agency. The unveiling also marks ArcelorMittal’s announcement to become a tier two sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to support he infrastructure and success of 2012.)

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell agreed the commission in partnership with Mr Mittal after bringing together a panel from the art and design world to advise on a long list of proposals. Anish Kapoor’s team made an outstanding proposal that would be accessible and leave a fitting 2012 legacy.

Anish Kapoor said: 'I am deeply honoured to be invited to undertake this challenging commission. I am particularly attracted to it because of the opportunity to involve members of the public in a particularly close and personal way. It is the commission of a lifetime.'

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: ''Long after the Games are over our aim is to have a stunning spectacle in east London that will be recognised around the world. I’m thrilled that when visitors from every corner of the globe plan trips to our must see attractions they will now eagerly include the ArcelorMittal Orbit! It will be an internationally acclaimed family attraction and I would like to thank Mr Mittal for his generous support. Anish Kapoor's inspired art work will truly encapsulate the energy and spirit of London during the Games and as such will become the perfect iconic cultural legacy.”

Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal, commented: “The Olympic Games are one of the few truly iconic global events. I was immediately excited by the prospect of ArcelorMittal becoming involved because ArcelorMittal is a global company with operations in more than 60 countries. And as someone who lives in this great city, I remember the great excitement felt when it was announced that London had been selected to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We set out to create a transformational piece of art that will be an iconic symbol for the Olympics and also a new landmark that will endure long after the Games themselves. Everyone at ArcelorMittal is delighted with the outcome of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. London will have a bold, beautiful and magnificent sculpture that also showcases the great versatility of steel.”

The attraction will stand in the southern part of the Olympic Park between the Stadium and Aquatics Centre and will open in time for the 2012 Games. After completion, the Olympic Park Legacy Company will take ownership and run the visitor attraction.

Minister for the Olympics and London Tessa Jowell said: “This stunning structure will become a new iconic London landmark towering 115 metres into the London skyline. Alongside the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre, Anish Kapoor’s brilliant design will be like to honey to
bees for the millions of tourists that visit London each year. Having been involved in this project from the outset, I’m now looking forward to seeing it go from a great idea into a brilliant reality.”

Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Seb Coe said: “Our ambitions for the Games are very clear and very simple. We want to leave leaving a lasting legacy: of more young people playing sport, of changing public
attitudes towards disabilities through the Paralympic Games, of an extraordinarily transformed landscape in East London, in which this impressive sculpture will play a central role. The new sculpture will be an indelible memory, a declaration of legacy and a definable landmark that Londoners and people from around the world will enjoy visiting during the Games and long afterwards.

Margaret Ford, Chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, said: “When you are able to combine an industry leader with a world renowned artist, supported by significant investment, we clearly see the significance of the Olympic Park. This visitor attraction will sit alongside our other iconic venues and, in animating the site, will encourage the public to use the park. This is a magnificent legacy asset.”

Advisory panel members Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist of the Serpentine Gallery, said: “The success of Anish Kapoor's Marsyas commission Tate Modern in 2003 and his exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2009 demonstrates that his work already strikes a chord with
many people. His close partnership with the distinguished engineer Cecil Balmond has created the exciting prospect of a sculpture to be climbed, an unexpected view of the city and a new place to visit and enjoy in London.”

Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota, who sat on the advisory panel, said: "We are delighted that Anish Kapoor with Cecil Balmond will give London a new structure which is one of the most exciting new commissions of our time. The collaboration between Anish Kapoor, Cecil Balmond and Lakshmi Mittal bridges art, architecture, engineering and business to produce a new landmark for London."

Posted on Wednesday March 31st 2010 at 2:55 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • sid

    Just ugly. Nothing more than that.

  • bcalleia

    If you were a fan of Kapoor's work than you shouldn't have any expectations when visiting a new piece of his. The Olympics is all about fun and new experiences. Think of how playful and intriguing this piece would be to a four year old?

    Look at the structures popping up around it, do they all fit in the same stylistic category? No, they are all individual, and interesting pieces in their own right.

    Simply saying 'HATE IT', 'I don't like this…' is all fine and welcome on here, It's a public forum.

    But tell us why? No-one ever hates on the latest Rihanna tune for no reason.

    I obviously also think it looks like something an imaginative 8 yr old would make in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, BUT the fact that it is actually being built, is quite incredible!!!!

  • Jihad Azmuddin

    I dont really love it but it represents the modern art we live in today. A whole bunch of art (indescribably and unexplainably) in one piece. Surprisingly big though when compared to the Statue of Liberty. Can’t wait to be there. I got my tickets already :))) London 2012!!!!

  • Daniel

    total junk. you feel you don't even wanna read the description.

  • Akeel

    Leave the architecture to the architects

  • seb

    I mostly know Arcelomittal for the factory they are closing here and there in France. Happy to see where the money is gone…

  • john chamberlain

    Looking through collaborations between architects and engineers and the few design references with which you can assess who did what……….shows that when the engineering becomes too prominant the results are usually poor.

    Architects are usually blamed for adding things in excess to requirements…..involving poor conceptual thinking and confusion of means.
    There were no architects involved here……..although Balmond has endorced such collaboration and blasted the conservative climate in the UK.

    Balmond has collaborated on and designed himself several bridges using his"complexity theory"…….and used distortion to reference some conceptual base. Straightforward symbols surely require some way of being evident and understandable. The simplicity of many of Kapors works allows you to understand their symbolism, whether you agree with it or not…..this work for the Olympics seems too complex to be read by many and its complexity confusing.
    I haven't read any explanation of its conceptual base which resonates with the object itself.
    Nor is the overall reaction (negative) a "Shock of the New" as we have become accustomed to many experimental structures which make apparant a geometric truth……….outside the normal. The Skylon did that for tensile structures when such things weren't common. When engineers become architects as Balmond has tried to become the results are often uncomfortable.
    Engineer plus Artist isa combination we haven't seem much of and when engineers start designing outside the box we get some strange results.

    Not understanding the intention of the structure other than its impact as a symbol , in this case a confusing message, makes for rejection and its value is reduced.

    No amount of political endorcement, erudite comment and justification from those involved can redress the first impressions of something poorly followed through. Its size and appearance are not sufficient to exonerate its confused message.

    The Eiffel Tower was a far more simpistic, proposed in extraordinary times…………in France!

    So lets see how it functions………. and plan for its removal if required!

  • I cannot see this sitting comfortably alongside the other buildings within the Olympic Park. Attention seeking; oppressive, almost russian constructivist in its form.

    Im certainly open to more challenging architectural aesthetics, but this in my opinion was a poor decision, selecting a design that (as far as can be seen without visiting the site itself) appears to in no way compliment the more refined context within which this tawdry, self aggrandising monument sits.

  • scott

    I don't get it. What's the design supposed to represent? And £15.00 a pop to go to the top? Er… I don't think so. (did someone say 'White Elephant')

  • michael

    Prefer this to Kappor's other work. This has some texture and experience, the others are all too simple. Agreed the that the elements are discordant, but this sits okay with me. It challenges me to read the sculpture more and try to understand the narrative the artist is trying to tell.

  • I actually really like this sculpture/tower. I wonder if it will grow on people? I'm not surprised that some people dislike it, but I'm pretty surprised by how many. I don't really see what's to hate about it. Maybe if the whole thing had been skinned so that its form were clearer people would be less hostile? Anyway, I love it and look forward to walking up to the top.

  • narinderjit kaur

    Work of art, though difficult to be understood by non-intellectuals.

  • PDB

    Seeing AK interview on BBC ahead of its opening, the structure has clearly been corrupted by regulation. Where would the Pisa tower be if it had to be safe? It’s not his most remarkable work, especially due to compromise. It’s still an achievement, its still there, so well done, but… it’s no Cloud Gate.

  • Bobo

    The Olympics are over, but we still have to look at this metal-crap-pile. If this kind of art is for intellectuals, then it is dry and not for the heart.

  • Ru Scott

    It's like a first year architecture project.

  • nevine

    This is a deliberate foul design. It’s disturbing to the eye with its malignant lines. It is a direct reflection of a disdain for the Olympic games and the capacity of man!