Marble Arch Mound is SHUT after two days amid storm of criticism

Marble Arch Mound is SHUT after two days amid storm of criticism – as Westminster council admits its £6.50-a-ticket £2M ‘Sh*t Hill’ was ‘clearly not ready’

  • The £2million artificial hill on Park Lane was closed yesterday morning to everyone except those who has paid
  • Westminster Council admitted it was ‘clear that it is not ready’ but failed to explain why it opened on Monday
  • It comes after it emerged those living near mound begged authorities to ‘end this madness’ before it was built

The Marble Arch Mound has shut after just two days after it was slammed as ‘Sh*t Hill’ and ‘the worst attraction in London’.

The £2million artificial hill on Park Lane was closed yesterday morning to everyone except those who had already paid for tickets – costing between £4.50 and £8 – online in advance.

City of Westminster Council admitted it was ‘clear that it is not ready’ but failed to explain why it opened on Monday when it was not finished.

It comes after it emerged families living near the mound begged authorities to ‘end this madness’ before it was even built.

Stunned taxpayers implored councillors to turn down the planning application for the 25m grass and scaffolding monstrosity in February.

One branded it an ‘absolute waste of money’, while another assessed it as ‘a disgraceful and unwanted piece of temporary nonsense’.

Others thought it would attract more crime to the area, while a further local homeower said ‘It’s ill-thought through, costly and ill-timed’.

Further objections, put their thoughts more simply, imploring the council to ‘end this madness and spend public money much more wisely’. 


Reality and fantasy: The council admitted this afternoon the mound was not ready and refunds would be given all week

The view from the hill showed cloudy skies ahead after a solid 24 hours of criticism and savage put-downs on the mound

Residents living near the listed Marble Arch monument were not in favour of the new hill and called it ‘temporary nonsense’

Another member of the public said that the temporary nature of the man-made mound made it a ‘ridiculous waste of money’

One family urged the council to think again about the project and ‘end this madness’ as well as spend money ‘more wisely’

A view from the structure – which people have compared unfavourably to vistas seen from hills in other parts of London 

Ugly metal fencing and barriers are still in place around the mound as well as traffic cones, which detract from the greenery

Inside the mound, which visitors see as they exit the attraction, features a complicated scaffold structure

Greenery planted along the side of the structure has not yet grown out into the expected floral display

The Marble Arch mound installation opens to the public who have paid between £4.50 and £8 depending on the time of day

One of the less than impressive views from the mound, showing a metal staircase, metal containers and road traffic 

Twitter users have been critical of the new installation which doesn’t entirely match the CGI plans which were submitted pre-installation to show how the attraction would look

A view over Marble Arch – a famous landmark which is now completely overshadowed by the controversial new attraction 

The attraction is almost entirely surrounded by traffic, meaning the view for visitors leaves something to be desired 

The mound offers only very limited views across the park because of a blanket of trees surrounding the attraction

Visitors were offered a 360-degree view of scaffolding, building sites and cranes carrying out construction on buildings

Much of the view visitors have from the top of the attraction is of traffic on the surrounding roads in the busy central London location 

Policemen join members of the public at the top of the mound, which is fenced off – for safety reasons 

Visitors reach the top of the mound via a long metal walkway. The turf on the mound is only in the early stages of growth 

In a fresh insult to locals, City of Westminster Council last night admitted the structure is closed but failed to explain why it was opened on Monday.

A council spokesman told the Times: ‘It is clear that it is not ready. People who have paid should have the right to go up. But ultimately we know it’s not ready. We acknowledge that. That’s why we are not letting people up.’

But he refused to divulge why it was opened before it was ready and would not commit to a date when it will reopen.

The mound was billed as offering a ‘new perspective’ but opened with 360-degree views of scaffolding, crash barriers and an empty Oxford Street. Visitors were so unhappy they were offered refunds for their tickets.

World-renowned Dutch architect MVRDV designed the project and it was built by construction firms NRP and FM Conway, but looks little like the original plans.

There have also been questions about why something so artificial-looking has been built next to the great natural expanse of green land that is Hyde Park.

A huge 86 per cent of public comments on the scheme when it was proposed in February objected to it – with 52 of the 60 received hostile to the project.

Even the St Marylebone Society Committee – who actually went on to support it – admitted reaction from members had been mixed, with some branding it ‘daft’.

 



Two twitter users likened it to a Mario computer game and the home of the Teletubbies

How Marble Arch was originally built to be the grand entrance to Buckingham Palace 

Designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Marble Arch was designed by John Nash – the architect to King George IV – in 1827.

It was intended to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace and initially stood near where there the central part of the building – complete with the famous balcony – is today.

Whilst most of its grand panels and statues had been completed by 1830, the death that year of the King led to the sacking of Nash by the Duke of Wellington – the then Prime Minister – for overspending.

Designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Marble Arch was designed by John Nash – the architect to King George IV – in 1827. It was intended to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace and initially stood near where there the central part of the building – complete with the famous balcony – is today

Instead, fellow architect Edward Blore was commissioned to complete the Arch in a less ostentatious fashion.

The Arch itself was completed in 1833, whilst the central gates were added in 1837 – just in time for Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

When the Arch became overshadowed by Blore’s enlarged Buckingham Palace, the decision was taken in 1850 to move the structure to its current location at Cumberland Gate, where it formed a grand entrance to Hyde Park in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

It was de-constructed stone by stone and then put back together after making the short journey.

However, in 1908, a new road scheme cut through the park, leaving the Arch separated from Hyde Park. In 1960s, the roads were widened once more, leaving the Arch in its present isolated position.

In 1970, the Arch gained Grade-1 listed status.

While the designs for the artificial hill had shown a magical space of lush greenery and stunning views, the reality provided very little.

Neighbouring Hyde Park is almost entirely obscured by trees, making it difficult to spot anything on the grasses. Then to the right a wasteground being developed boast a number of shipping containers and rubble.

The walk-up to the attraction is little better, with a parade of dumper bins lining one corner of the manmade structure. 

Its big reveal prompted a barrage of criticism from the public over its cost and execution. Bassano wrote: ‘Having just learned of the Marble Arch Mound, I’m not sure what’s worse. 

‘Charging £8 to ascend some scaffolding covered in rolls of B&Q turf or the views of the building site from the top’ Marketing expert Dan Barker said: ‘I’d joked before that it cost 6p per step to climb it, as the ‘fast track’ price was £8. That seems to have dropped to £6.50, meaning it is a more affordable 5p per step to climb the 130ish steps.’

David Heslop opined: ‘I’ve just seen that Marble Arch mound thing, and can anyone explain why it looks like it was built using the terrain editor from the first Roller Coaster Tycoon?’

Jon quipped: ‘They needed to either make more effort to make Marble Arch Mound look like a hill, or less effort. As it is, it looks like a screenshot from seven minutes of work in Minecraft.’

Rachel said: ‘TBF the Teletubby land hill, looks better than the £2 million pound utter monstrosity that is the Marble Arch mound.’

Joshua added: ‘You cannot tell me the Marble Arch mound doesn’t look like the first level in Mario 64.’ Another asked: ‘I don’t live in London. Is this a joke or have the Tories really built a £2million slag heap by Marble Arch?’

July Aylott, 60, a fashion adviser from Hitchin, Herts, said: ‘I like the idea of what they did but the views weren’t what we expected. It was nice to get up high, but you can’t see up Oxford street, which they say you can on the website.

‘You can see the shard and cranes in the distance, but that’s about it really. I don’t think it would be worth the eight pounds if you went up there with a family.’

Merryl Robersom, 65, a retired head teacher from Hampton, south west London, said: ‘Seeing London from a different angle and over into Hyde Park is lovely, although the trees are quite high at the minute.

‘It attracted me because it’s Marble Arch and I’ve never been above Marble Arch – did you know there are windows at the top of it?

‘But we were expecting to see more and we were desperate for a coffee, but it’s not open yet. I think they should have delayed the opening, because it all seems to rushed.’

Back in February the stage had been set for a spectacular inner-city display. Winy Maas, founding partner at MVRDV, had helped stoke the anticipation.

He told Architect’s Journal: ‘It’s a location full of contradictions, and our design highlights that. By adding this landscape element, we make a comment on the urban layout of the Marble Arch, and by looking to the site’s history, we make a comment on the area’s future.

‘Marble Arch Hill strengthens the connection between Oxford Street and the park via the Marble Arch. Can this temporary addition help inspire the city to undo the mistakes of the 1960s, and repair that connection?’ 

Here’s what you could have won! Plans promised sweeping views for six months between summer and Christmas

The plans for the mound look very different in terms of quality to the finished product, with many left very unimpressed 

The plans, pictured here showed a hill bustling with flora and fauna but the reality is much more bare and lacks greenery

Members of the public going up Marble Arch Mound today. Much of the vegetation appears to need time to grow 

What a view! Marketing expert Dan Barker posted this obscured vision from the Marble Arch Mound tip yesterday 

Slight Return left no doubt of their opinion on the Marble Arch Mound with this meme showing dinosaur dung in Jurassic Park

Social media was flooded with disdain for the £2million project and its appearance, noting the cost of just going up there

Westminster Council was similarly enthused by the design and seemed eager to see the results.

Council leader Rachael Robathan said at the time: ‘Our proposed Hyde Park Hill temporary visitor attraction at Marble Arch signifies our ambitious approach to the Oxford Street district.

‘It will be important for bringing in visitors to support the local economy. However, it will offer so much more. We hope it will give people an opportunity to look afresh and with wonder at this well-known, but sadly increasingly overlooked, area to recognise its beauty and importance.’

In the days leading up to the opening Mr Maas seemed to accept that the real hill was not quite up to the standards of the designs.

He told the Guardian: ‘It’s not enough, we are all fully aware that it needs more substance. The initial calculation was for a stair, and then there are all the extras.

‘But I think it still opens people’s eyes and prompts an intense discussion. It’s OK for it to be vulnerable. Imagine if you lifted up Hyde Park at each of its corners. Speaker’s Corner could be transformed into a kind of tribune, with a perfect view across an endless landscape.’

The Marble Arch Mound installation is intended to be in place for the rest of the year. It will be taken down and dismantled at the start of January 2022.

The council said yesterday: ‘We are aware that elements of the Marble Arch Mound are not yet ready for visitors. We are working hard to resolve this over the next few days.

‘In light of the delay, we are offering anybody who has booked a visit during the first week a return ticket free of charge so that they can enjoy the full experience including the Lightfield art installation, M&S Food, and the landscape once it has had time to bed in and grow.

‘People who visited the Mound today, and people who are booked for the rest of the week (including the weekend), will be contacted and offered a refund and a free return ticket so they can see the Mound at its best.

‘Anyone who has booked a visit this week can go up the Mound as planned and then still take advantage of the free return ticket. The Mound is a living building by design.

‘We’ll continue to adapt and improve London’s newest outdoor attraction and resolve any teething problems as they emerge.

‘We’re sorry for the delay and look forward to welcoming visitors when they’re ready to enjoy all the Mound has to offer. See Tickets will shortly be in touch with everyone who booked a ticket for this week.’

The temporary installation in central London includes a viewing platform which allows visitors the opportunity to look out

The Marble March Mound as it was taking shape back in June this year next to the famous landmark it now looms over 

In the days leading up to the opening architect Mr Maas seemed to accept that the real hill was not quite up to scratch

Designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Marble Arch was designed by John Nash

From market hall in Rotterdam covered with a 11,000-sq-ft mural to Shenzhen’s sustainable city: Other projects by ‘Abba of Architects’ that designed slated mound 

The unusually-named MVRDV was formed in 1993 and are so called because of the initials of their founders.

Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries dreamt up the firm, which is based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

They describe themselves as having a global scope and are there to ‘provide solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues in all regions of the world’. 

Their completed projects include the Netherlands Pavilion for the World EXPO 2000 in Hannover and the Market Hall, a combination of housing and retail in Rotterdam.

The Market Hall is one of the most famous landmarks of Rotterdam and The Netherlands

MVRDV also designed an infamous pair of apartment towers in South Korea that were unbelievably reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, with a pair of towers joined by a ‘pixelated’ cloud. The project prompted an outcry and was eventually cancelled

That was not the first time MVRDV had courted controversy after a disaster. Following Hurricane Katrina it designed a house for victims in New Orleans in association with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation, reported the International Business Times. But the house design threatened to outrage survivors as it looked like the property was bent double from strong winds

The Market Hall was opened in October 2014 and had attracted more than six million visitors by just a year later. 

The city’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, said that the influence of the new building went beyond just visitor numbers. 

‘The Markthal contributes immensely to the image and attractiveness of Rotterdam as a city . . . where national and international businesses want to invest,’ he said in comments reported by the FT. 

It also designed an infamous pair of apartment towers in South Korea that were unbelievably reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, with a pair of towers joined by a ‘pixelated’ cloud. The project prompted an outcry and was eventually cancelled. 

That was not the first time MVRDV had courted controversy after a disaster. 

Following Hurricane Katrina it designed a house for victims in New Orleans in association with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right foundation, which threatened to outrage survivors as it looked like the property was bent double from strong winds. 

‘Provocation is good, because it pushes people,’ MVRDV head Winy Maas told Metropolis at the time, before referencing the controversial director of Fahrenheit 9/11. ‘We need architectural Michael Moores.’

MVRDV describe themselves as having a global scope and are there to ‘provide solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues in all regions of the world’. WoZoCo, a series of one-bedroom dwellings for seniors in Amsterdam which the firm designed 

A September 2020 picture of the Depot Boijmans van Beuningen, designed by MVRDV in Rotterdam to house an art museum 

Baltyk (‘Baltic’) office block, designed by MVRDV architects and chosen as the best designed building built in Poland in 2017

 MVRDV also designed WoZoCo, which are one-bedroom dwellings for seniors in Amsterdam. The building is known because of the extreme cantilever of some of the apartments and the variety of materials: wood siding, colored glass balconies, concrete. 

The company’s latest project is the Dutch Pavilion of the 2000 World Expo.

MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs said of it: ‘It’s such an exciting opportunity for us to revisit this early project of ours that we first worked on over twenty years ago’

‘The original design was certainly a unique design for a very specific purpose, but despite its outspoken design its core structure is highly reusable and more flexible than originally imagined.

‘The differences between the floors will be maintained and converted into a functional office environment that nevertheless retains the unique experimental features of the Expo Pavilion. You will be able to work on the Dunes, or in the forest, or between the treepots.’ 

Matsudai Snow-Land Agrarian Culture Center, Matsudai, Japan, which was one of the architecture firm’s many projects 

Social housing by MVRDV architects in Madrid. The Mirador building is described as a collection of mini neighbourhoods stacked vertically around a semi-public sky-plaza

Source: Read Full Article