Friday, 2 April 2010

Can you see what it is yet?

It seems we will be getting a new landmark structure in London, the ArcelorMittal Orbit. According to the BBC this will be a "monument to mark the London 2012 Olympic Games", but what is it?

Much as I like artistic work there are times I have to wonder at the expense. The proposed cost, £19 million, is trivial these days but would easily pay the (government policy induced) debts of a couple of hospitals, or universities, or many, many small schools.

So other than go "Ooh, Ahh" what will people do there? Will they think about the historical London and why the city came to be? How this teeming metropolis became one of the nerve centres of the world? Why it is, from the north, we still go 'up' to London? Or will it be "Ooh, I used to live over there", or "Ahh, that's where our hotel is"? I suspect too much of the latter.

"It will enhance tourism" many may say, but how many hot-dog stalls can it sustain? I notice the plaza is depicted as full of people, but has no indication of markets or craft fairs or side-shows; something that would put money in the local pocket and be better than Fagin and his gang. Otherwise any turnstile revenue will evaporate into the corporate aether and be of scant benefit to anyone but a very small minority.

I don't see any use to this structure. More than that I feel if we don’t stop wasting what people are good at, and I am thinking engineers and architects here, then too much pointless fancy like this will impoverish our world, rather than enrich it.


dave hambidge said...

WTF is it supposed to be? Or is it art for arts sake? Boris Johnson had too much time on his hand and played with a spirograph?

I think the "Up" to London is from the original rail companies having up and down lines. And even then, London-centric thinking ruled!

NobblySan said...

Boris Johnson's spokeswoman for art (WTF?) was interviewed on the radio on Friday about this thing.

She really struggled to justify what it was for and whether people would appreciate it. she did try, bless her, but the interviewer would not let drop the matter of 'but how will this regenerate the area?', and there were no sensible answers forthcoming.

I'm all for landmarks; but I can't for the life of me imagine how something like this in my area of the world, would help top bring in visitors and boost the local economy. How the hell it will do it in the east end of london is also beyond me.

jill said...

the fact that you can walk up it to a viewing platform is cool, but that is the ugliest structure i think i've ever seen.

lisleman said...

I'm not that familiar with the area it will be in but I think if it is near other landmarks like the Tower of London, it should draw in tourists. From the picture it seems to be a modern version of an Eiffel tower.

I was wondering - do you think from a certain angle it might resemble the British pound symbol?

Kai Roberts said...

Hmm, I'm not sure I can agree with your last paragraph. I've always had a great deal of sympathy for John Ruskin's assertion that the social health of a nation is greatly influenced by the aesthetic qualities of its public spaces. Although, having said that, I can't honestly see many aesthetic qualities in this tower thing. This strikes me as far better example of public art.

Andy Holroyd said...

Kai, I was careful to say ‘too much pointless fancy’ because I think real life should not become a theme park.

I agree, the "Goddess of the North" is a much better project and a great use for the mine spoil.