Artist Kapoor wins Olympic tower competition

Thu Apr 1, 2010 4:22am EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A spiraling red tower, designed by Turner prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor and taller than New York's Statue of Liberty, will soar over London's Olympic Park as a beacon of hope, London's mayor said.

The 19 million pound ($29 million) tower, consisting of giant entwined steel lattice figures of eight, will largely be funded by ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel manufacturer, with the remaining three million pounds coming from the London Development Agency.

Taller than London's Big Ben but smaller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the 115-meter tower is a "symbol of the dynamism of a city coming out of recession," Mayor Boris Johnson said.

"I know very well that there will be people who say we are nuts, we are barmy in the depths of a recession to be building Britain's biggest piece of public art, but ... we are certain that this is the right thing ...," added Johnson, whose idea it was to host a competition to design the tower.

The permanent structure would make the east London skyline distinctive, arousing "curiosity and wonder" among Londoners and visitors, just as the Atomium "molecule" structure has for Brussels, and the Eiffel Tower for Paris, he added.

London-based Kapoor worked with structural designer Cecil Balmond, famous for his CCTV building in Beijing, to create the ArcelorMittal "Orbit."

The pair, who have become renowned for their ambitious, large-scale public art projects, beat competition from other internationally recognized artists including Antony Gormley, famous for his "Angel of the North" sculpture.

"One of the things we have always thought about, fantasized about, is how one might rethink the tower," Kapoor said.   Continued...

<p>British artist Anish Kapoor unveils a scale model of his design, the "ArcelorMittal Orbit", which is due to be installed in the Olympic Park as part of London's 2012 Olympic Games, in London, March 31, 2010. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>