Orbit to provide best seat in the house

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2011, 12:00am


While many of the facilities at the London Olympic Park will disappear, the ArcelorMittal Orbit will probably stand out as an abiding memory.

Standing at 115 metres tall and located between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, the towering steel sculpture represents an advance in architecture by combining arts and structural engineering,

It will allow visitors to enjoy a stunning view across London's skyline and become another major tourist destination in the capital when it is completed early next year, just like the London Eye that sits on the Thames River.

'The Orbit can accommodate 5,000 visitors a day and has the potential to attract around one million people during the first year of operation,' said Ian Louden, brand manager of ArcelorMittal, a steel company and sponsor of the sculpture.

The idea of erecting a sculpture came after London Mayor Boris Johnson said the Olympic Park needed 'something extra' to 'distinguish the east London skyline' and 'arouse the curiosity and wonder of Londoners and visitors'.

A competition was held in 2009 calling for designs to create an accessible piece of art for the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Around 50 submissions were received before the Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond designed steel sculpture was picked as the winner.

Built at a cost of GBP22.7 million (HK$278 million), the Orbit is constructed from 1,500 tonnes of steel. Some 19,000 litres of red paint will provide the finishing touches.

There will be two observation floors and, after visitors take a lift to the top, they will have the option of walking down the 1,150-foot, 455-step spiralling staircase to experience the structure's unique form.

The Orbit will be licensed to the London Olympic Games Organising Committee between May and October 2012 before being reopened in May 2013.


Height, in metres, of the Statue of Liberty in New York, which is 22 metres shorter than the Orbit in London