Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Olympic Tower or 'What the Heck is that?'

I know, it's been like three days since I posted something on the Olympics.  Sorry about that.  Will try to do better.

During the Olympic coverage, we've often been treated to London's giant Ferris wheel, the London Eye.  Right next to it is some kind of weird red structure and I've been trying to figure out what it is.  Maybe they've covered this in the TV features, but if so, I missed it.  Finally, I turned to my good friends, Google and Wikipedia.
It's called the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower or some such.  Here is what Wiki has to say about it:
Orbit was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond. Announced on 31 March 2010, it was expected to be completed by December 2011, though like many projects on the Olympic Park that date was pushed back. The project came about after Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell decided in 2008 that the Olympic Park needed "something extra". Designers were asked for ideas for an "Olympic tower" at least 100 metres (330 ft) high, and Orbit was the unanimous choice from proposals considered by a nine-person advisory panel.
 Which makes me wonder about the other proposals.  As you can see from the picture, there is a spiral staircase that winds all the way to an observation deck.  And then it looks like someone crashed a roller coaster into it and couldn't pry it loose.  What does the creator say?
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".[14] 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".[14] 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."[14] The spaces inside the structure, in between the twisting steel, are "cathedral like", according to Balmond, while according to Kapoor, the intention is that visitors will engage with the piece as they wind "up and up and in on oneself" on the spiral walkway.[14]
It is also said to have a 'surprisingly female form'.  If I was a woman, I don't think I'd take that as a compliment.  (Though now that I think of it, how great of a Halloween costume would the tower make for a woman?)  The Wiki article has articles on both positive and negative reception.  The negative is the longer of the two and kind of a fun read. 
I like the idea of strong and iconic sculpture.  I like symbols.  I like towers.  This?  I don't really like.

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