Beyond 2012 - an integrated Design Story

ArcelorMittal Orbit
A built environment story

“Beyond the site, London grows as an emerging form of social and cultural change, and the Orbit weaves a metaphor for such a trace.”

Cecil Balmond,
Co-designer/Author

Tell us about the early design brief

The artist Anish Kapoor and I joined forces to design a 100 metre-high landmark tower for the London 2012 Olympics. We wanted a trans-form over the Olympic Park that spoke of fragile stabilities and initiated geometries of the non-linear. Beyond the site, London grows as an emerging form of social and cultural change, and the Orbit weaves a metaphor for such a trace.

What inspired your design?

A planet moves in constant motion whirling around a steady path – a stability. The idea for the Orbit was just that, an encircling, in direct contrast to the static stand up of the traditional tower. By turning, looping and connecting up every time it passes itself, a unique, highly stable structure is created that compiles space around you. The contact points, though scattered in space, form a network that gives stability. Unlike vertical towers that grow by being continually supported one storey upon another, the Orbit form gathers strength from overlaps and scatter, in a new paradigm for form and its stabilities. No straight up structure does this.

The Orbit is without symmetry and is in direct contrast to the inert stand up of a traditional tower. Instead of rising up a vertical in a traditional sense the visitor will find the strands moving around them, a continuous turning over of perception, meaning the experience of navigating space is ever changing as well.

Agency

Artist Team
Cecil Balmond and Anish Kapoor

Project
ArcelorMittal Orbit

Website
balmondstudio.com
anishkapoor.com

Project team

Cecil Balmond
Artist/Co-designer/Co-author

Anish Kapoor
Artist/Co-designer/Co-author

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