Towers of Babble
Compared to other world cities of the industrial age, London suffers from a lack of a pointlessly symbolic engineering folly. Perhaps due to a particularly British resistance to the visual trappings of modernity, or a reticence about objects which aren’t immediately useful, certain attempts at joyously futile structures – whether it be Sir Edward Watkin’s ill-fated Wembley Tower (1891–1907), designed by Stuart, MacLaren and Dunn, or the Festival of Britain’s much-lamented ‘Skylon’ by Powell & Moya (1951) – were never given the chance to become permanent fixtures on the skyline. But this is about to change, for the Olympics have managed to bring to London perhaps the most spectacular bauble yet conceived as urban adornment: the ArcelorMittal Orbit (2012). Designed to be a permanent visitor attraction at the Olympic Park, this twisted, ruby-red squiggle of a structure is 115 metres high, its lurid whorls housing a viewing platform, a lift leading up and a spiral staircase back down.
full article in Frieze magazine