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

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms