Kapoor told to take his Olympic tower back to drawing board

It has been nicknamed the "hubble bubble" tower and its creators hope that the soaring structure will provide a lasting legacy for east London once the Olympic Games are over. But unless they remember to install pipes for the toilets, Anish Kapoor's shisha pipe-shaped Olympic tower may never get off the ground.

A review of the tower's design by the Government's architecture watchdog has found that the 114-metre artwork still has a long way to go before it can convince planning chiefs that the £19.1m project will do what it set out to do.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe), which advises the Government on architecture and urban planning, published a review yesterday concluding that the sculpture's design is "not yet resolved in sufficient detail to receive planning approval".

Its panel of experts say a series of issues have been overlooked in the tower's structure, including how sewage pipes will be incorporated without compromising the overall aesthetics of Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond's design.

The tower, which goes by the official name of ArcelorMittal Orbit, is expected to become Britain's tallest public artwork and will enable hundreds of visitors every day to take in sweeping panoramas of the Olympic Park and London skyline. It will be one of the first buildings visitors encounter when they come through the entrance of the Olympic Park and stands close to the Olympic stadium.

Funded by a £16m donation from steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's richest man, the tower is intended to be a lasting legacy for the area, encouraging tourists to return to Stratford long after the 2012 games have come to a close.

But Cabe's four-page critique has concluded that further work is required on the design of the entrance pavilion and power supply unit, as well as the tower's two viewing platforms, two lifts, stairs and the way it integrates with the wider Olympic park.

In particular, the report's authors said more thought needed to paid to the ancillary buildings around the tower, where security checks and ticket sales will be carried out.

"There is a danger that such mundane requirements will downgrade the quality of the Orbit as an art work," the report stated. "Without these details being submitted as part of the planning submission, we, and the planning authority, are being asked to take on trust that they will be elegantly resolved."

There are also concerns that despite the tower's height, it could still be overshadowed by the cauldron which will hold the Olympic flame throughout the tournament. The current planning application for the Olympic Cauldron, which will also be adjacent to the main stadium, is a large concrete structure up to 150 metres high, taller than the Orbit tower.

"This would call into question both the location for the Orbit and its height, if a second tall structure were constructed in such close proximity," the report found.

Cabe's findings are significant because the construction of the tower is already on a tight deadline. Arcelor Mittal, the steel company building the tower, hopes to have the red structure completed by December 2011 but much of that will depend on whether they get swift planning approval.

A spokesperson for the company yesterday played down Cabe's findings and said their concerns are all part of the public consultation process that precedes planning permission. "The questions they posed have been addressed, and this type of analysis is typical in the development of a project on this scale," the spokesperson said. "A public consultation on the project is underway, and this feedback is central to the process."

When it is finished, the tower will have two viewing platforms for both the public and private functions. Access to the platforms will be via two high speed lifts that will be able to transport more than 600 visitors a day.

Able-bodied guests will then have to descend through a spiral staircase that clings to the side of the structure.

Turner winner Kapoor beat competition from the artist Antony Gormley and the architects Caruso St John to win a contest by Mayor of London Boris Johnson to find an "iconic symbol" for the city and the Olympic Park.

Mr Johnson hopes that the tower, which some have likened to a mangled rollercoaster, will be an architectural triumph in the mould of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

The Orbit is just the latest example of the current vogue for enormous – and costly – works of public art such as Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North and the 50m-tall horse by Mark Wallinger which will soon greet Eurostar passengers shooting through the Kent countryside.

Despite its criticisms, Cabe praised Kapoor's design for its sustainability. The Orbit will be constructed from 60 per cent recycled steel, with 25 per cent of concrete from recycled sources, and 75 per cent of bulk materials other than steel transported to site by rail.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living