Unveiled during the London Olympics 2012, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is a 115-metre-high sculpture and observation tower in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London. Located between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, the spiralling red steel tower provides views of the entire Olympic Park, and is intended to be a permanent lasting legacy of London's hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympics. It’s also Britain's largest piece of public art.
The tower was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond of engineering Group Arup, and sponsored by ArcelorMittal, a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and a global leading steel company.
Construction of the ArcelorMittal Orbit took 18 months and required 560 metres of tubular red steel to form the sculpture’s lattice superstructure. The result is a bold statement of public art that is both permanent and sustainable, with close to 60 per cent of the 2,000 tonnes of steel used in the sculpture being drawn from recycled sources.
Now that the Games are officially over, the ArcelorMittal Orbit was handed over to the London Legacy Development Corporation who will run the ArcelorMittal Orbit as a visitor attraction, once the park reopens after a period of transformation, with ticketed viewing from the observation decks and a compelling venue for private functions. The ArcelorMittal Orbit will be able to accommodate around 5,000 visitors a day, with the potential to attract around one million people during its first year of operation. It will have the capacity to accommodate between 400 – 600 visitors per hour, including full wheelchair access. Visitors will be able to take a trip to the top of the structure in a lift or they can walk up and down the 455-steps spiral staircase.
Anish 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". While 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".