London 2012: Kapoor bemoans Orbit ticket price


Take a guided tour of the tower

Artist Anish Kapoor has given a preview of his Olympic Orbit tower sculpture, but admitted the £15 ticket price was "a hell of a lot of money".

The twisting red steel tower - known as ArcelorMittal Orbit - was officially unveiled to the media on Friday.

Designed by Kapoor and structural designer Cecil Balmond, the Orbit is the tallest sculpture in the UK - twice the height of Nelson's Column.

It will be open to visitors to the Olympic Games and Olympic Park in July.

Will Britain's largest sculpture become one of the country's most popular visitor attractions? Maybe.

The panoramic vista is spectacular and it's great to have a fresh perspective on London. But I find the views from the London Eye more memorable and the experience more entertaining.

As an artwork, the Orbit is slightly underwhelming. Kapoor is an extremely talented artist who has made scale the central tenet of his work. Although he's unlikely to say so in public, I suspect privately he wishes the structure was at least 50 per cent bigger than its current 115 metres.

When it comes to this particular piece, size really does matter.

Turner Prize-winner Kapoor said he thought the sculpture was beautiful, but added: "I think it is awkward. It has its elbows sticking out. It refuses to be an emblem. It is unsettling."

Visitors will be able to go up the 35-storey structure in a lift, and have the option of walking down its spiralling staircase.

During the Games the ticket price will be £15 for adults and £7 for children.

Kapoor said: "£15 is a hell of a lot of money, frankly. This thing has to be paid for, and there are all sorts of equations, but there's a push to keep that cost as low as possible and make it as available as possible."

The £22.7m Orbit is due to become a full-time ticketed visitor attraction in Easter 2014 as part of the phased re-opening of the Olympic Park after the Games.

Andrew Altman, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, which is in charge of the Park's future, said a lower pricing system for 2014 was yet to be worked out.

At 114.5 metres (376ft), The Orbit gives panoramic views across London's skyline of up to 20 miles.

The helter-skelter-like sculpture took 18 months to build, with 60% of its 2,000 tonnes of steel coming from recycled sources.

Ticket prices at comparative UK attractions

  • London Eye: Adult - £18.90/Child - £9.90
  • Blackpool Tower Eye: Adult - £12.60/Child - £9.60
  • Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth: Adult - £8.25/Child - £6.55

"We wanted to make something that was kind of a deconstruction of the tower," Kapoor told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Towers are almost always symmetrical," he continued, saying the Orbit's twisted loops were "the refusal of a singular image".

The Orbit has two observation floors, a 455-step spiral staircase, a lift and restaurant.

At ground level, visitors are greeted by a massive steel horn which hangs overhead.

The uppermost observation floor is flanked by two concave mirrors which disorientate the visitor before they get to see the skyline beyond.

Time-lapse footage and recent aerial pictures show up to the last days of construction. Time-lapse courtesy of ArcelorMittal

Art critic Richard Cork, who was among Friday's first batch of visitors, told the BBC: "You struggle to take it all in because it is completely mind-boggling. It is utterly unlike all the photos we've seen of the Orbit from the outside."

He went on: "I feel like a tiny little creature wandering round it. These concave mirrors present us with reflections of people's huge faces. It's like being ambushed, invaded and surprised again and again."

The first child visitor was 11-year-old Michael, who has watched the construction of the Orbit from his classroom at a local primary school.


  • Its height is 114.5m (London 2012 Olympic Stadium is 60m tall)
  • If its loops were straightened out, it would be taller than the Eiffel Tower
  • The Orbit could accommodate 5,000 visitors a day
  • There are two indoor platforms offering views of London's skyline
  • On a clear day, visitors will be able to see over 20 miles
  • 2,000 tonnes of steel have been used to build the tower
  • The spiral staircase has 455 steps

"I know there are some people who don't like it, but it's unique." he said. "I like the metal loops, and the outside walkway reminds me of a cheese grater. The mirrors are eye-catching and confusing."

The design of the Orbit has split opinions since its inception at a chance meeting between London Mayor Boris Johnson and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal in a cloakroom at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos.

Kapoor said on Friday that controversy was part of the deal. "There will be those who hate it and those who love it - that's okay.

"The Eiffel Tower was hated by everybody for 50 years, or something like that. Now it's a mainstay of how we understand Paris. We'll see what happens here."

Critics have described the orbit as "the Eiffel Tower after a nuclear attack" and "a catastrophic collision between two cranes".

Oliver Wainwright, from Building Design magazine branded it "a contorted mass of entrails".

"The way it towers over the stadium is particularly objectionable," he added, saying that the 2,000-tonne structure compared unfavourably to the lightweight construction of the venues in the Olympic park. "It's an obnoxious statement."

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

It is hoped the tower will help to attract 1 million visitors a year to Stratford's Olympic Park, when it reopens as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the Games.

Following the official preview, the Orbit will enter a 10-week period of final fit-out and testing ahead of its opening to the Olympic crowds on 28 July.

Steel company ArcelorMittal provided £19.2m towards the cost of building the Orbit, with the remaining £3.1m being funded by London Development Agency.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I think it is fabulous. A piece of art will never appeal to everybody because "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Whilst this might not be attractive in the conventional sense, those attracted to anything that does not conform to expected regulations will surely love this. And if not, then at least it is going to prove the subject of many a discussion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I go past it most days, and it is growing on me. However, (IMO) it should be a uniform colour, and they should of made it into a 21st century helter skelter as would be far more popular.

    It will also look far better after the olympics are over & the parklands have had a chance to grow around it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    68. cammysdad

    Suggest you re-read the article.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    £22 Million is such a waste... oh wait I read the article.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Here we go again. More of the taxpayer's money being spent on something that's nothing to do with the Olympics and everything to do with London's tourist industry. Any chance the tourist industry anywhere else in the country will get such a large injection of cash? Of course not. I could take seriously the austerity measures were not so much being squandered on supposed Olympic projects like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    When do they put the cladding on the outside then? Surely they can't 'unveil' it until it's finished?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Total waste of money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Reading the various comments by commentators, I totally NOW understand how the Tory's have hoodwinked the public into thinking 'Austerity' is the solution to everything. It is NOT. The world's Greatest Show and with all the whinging, I personally hope the IOC Never give the Olympics to any UK City for 100,000 years! Money is all that matters to the whingers - I am ashamed to be British!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    It looks like a giant helter skelter with a helicopter pad attached at the top. It dwarfs the landscape and I personally think a trick has been missed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    At a highly visible 114.5m high, and the fact that it's been on public view for the entire period of its construction and that it is not enclosed, covered or under a shroud of any kind, surely it can't be 'unveiled'.......

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    As always some people just put pen to paper to have a moan and a groan.
    5,000 people per day will use the Orbit and take in the views of London, plus after the games have finished it will be part of London and anotrher item for visitors across the world to pay and take in the views and the restaurant at the top.
    London Eye is a great succes this could be the same.Come On stop moaning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Has anyone else noticed a remarkable turnaround in the negative comments going rather suddenly from the highest to the lowest rated? Is it possible that staff from the ODA / ArcellorMittal / LDA have been instructed to vote on mass. Or am I just being paranoid?

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I would like to congratulate the welders/platers/painters/scaffolders for their excellent work..people should remember that this would not have been constructed without the skilled work force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    On visiting the Olympic Park last weekend, I was surprised at just how tall the Orbit is. Having seen the images of its development I wasn’t totally convinced but standing at its base you realise it's a quite remarkable structure. A grower I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    It is funny the number of people who can't read these days.

    Also it's not just a piece of art, it's a tower that they will charge people to go up and look at the view for up to 20 miles away. It's right near Westfields and the stadium. There will be visitors for years to come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    well what another complete waste of tax payers money. that thing is hideous and as far as i can see totally pointless, much like all the hype about the olympics. But hey im sure thatll have a lot of use in 5 years time....

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    i walked past this the other day and it literally mad me cringe, yet another embarrassment and waste of money. What is Boris on, saying that it would "boggled the minds of the Romans" and "dwarfed the aspirations of Gustave Eiffel", i think pointing and laughing would be much more likely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    How much tax break did Billionaire Mittal get from spending £22.7M of his money on this monstrocity? We ill all get to know soeday i guess. Cant really complain much as it wasn tax payer money that was misused on this rumpled steel eye sore. If this is modern art then th world has just got uglier imo!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I really like this. It is striking, innovative and different but doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a bit of fun! Not everyone will like it, but some people don't like anything new or unusual and should probably just get over it. They can't even argue that it cost them anything!


Page 12 of 15


More Entertainment & Arts stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.