Last updated at 09:48 BST, Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Kapoor's Olympic Orbit

Summary

14 May 2012

Its designers said they hoped to build a London rival to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It's a 115-metre tall tower made of red steel, erected next to the new Olympic stadium in East London. The design is by the Indian-born sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Reporter:

Vincent Dowd

The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture

The Orbit sculpture before its official unveiling at the Olympic Park, London.

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The relatively late decision to place a mammoth artwork next to the Olympic stadium in London originated in part from a fear the 2012 site would be less eye-catching than the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing.

London's mayor, Boris Johnson, decided he was the man to add something to the mix. Three years ago, with characteristic verve, he tackled the massively rich steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal in the lavatories at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Mr Mittal, born in Rajasthan but now a UK resident, is giving £19.6 million (around $31 million) to the project. Public funds in London have added around £3 million more.

It's the biggest sculpture in the UK: 22 metres taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York, for instance. Unsurprisingly, given the Mittal connection, it's something of an advert for what steel can do: it's been variously described as resembling a 115-metre-high exploding red paper clip and a fairground helter-skelter gone wrong.

A lift will take visitors to the top for an impressive view over the Olympic stadium and over London. When it opens fully to the public in July access will cost $25 and initially be limited to those with tickets for the Olympic Park. However, when the games are over the tower becomes part of their permanent legacy. That will be the crucial stage, when it becomes clear if Londoners and tourists have taken to their hearts this unusual addition to the city skyline.

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Vocabulary

mammoth

huge

eye-catching

noticeable

to add something to the mix

to add something different to the situation

verve

energy and enthusiasm

tackled

talked to or confronted

tycoon

successful business person

helter-skelter

tower with a slide that people go down

initially

at first

legacy

what is left behind

taken to their hearts

come to love