Orbit was commissioned by the Greater London Authority

from a shortlist of artist’s proposals for a permanent tower

for the Olympic Park. Construction started in November

2010 and was completed in May 2012.

Sketchbook drawings

Orbit models

“I wanted the sensation of instability, something that was continually in movement. Traditionally a tower is pyramidal in structure, but we have done quite the opposite, we have a flowing, coiling form that changes as you walk around it. … It is an object that cannot be perceived as having a singular image, from any one perspective. You need to journey round the object, and through it. Like a Tower of Babel, it requires real participation from the public” — Anish Kapoor

The Tower of Babel Pieter Bruegel the Elder, oil on panel, c. 1563

“There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It's a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it.” — Anish Kapoor


Digital drawings

Orbit drawings

Press / / / The Guardian 26.01.2010 / / / It looks as if Anish Kapoor will be let loose on the site of the London 2012 Olympics at Stratford, east London, to design a gargantuan tower sponsored by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Like the altogether more modest Skylon – an ethereal, skypiercing mast on the South Bank designed by the architects Powell and Moya as a signpost for the 1951 Festival of Britain – Kapoor's tower, designed in collaboration with the imaginative structural engineer Cecil Balmond, will draw attention to the Olympics Park more persuasively than any of the architecture commissioned for the event. Only Zaha Hadid's Aquatics Centre will be able to hold anything like a flaming torch to this structure. (more)

Orbit models

Orbit drawings

Orbit digital renders

Press / / / de zeen 31.03.2010 / / / Award winning London-based artist Anish Kapoor has been given the commission of a lifetime to design the spectacular new public attraction in the Olympic Park. The stunning artwork, to be entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’, will ensure the Park remains an unrivalled visitor destination following the 2012 Games, providing the key Olympic legacy Mayor of London Boris Johnson envisaged for the East End. The breathtaking sculpture – thought to be the tallest in the UK – will consist of a continuous looping lattice of tubular steel. Standing at a gigantic 115m, it will be 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and offer unparalleled views of the entire 250 acres of the Olympic Park and London’s skyline from a special viewing platform. Visitors will be able to take a trip up the statuesque structure in a huge lift and will have the option of walking down the spiralling staircase. (more)

Inkjet print and pen on paper


Press / / / Financial Times 09.04.2010 / / / At long last: the cultural wing of the London Olympic Games has its first tangible talking point. Anish Kapoor’s monument for the Olympic Park, the ArcelorMittal Orbit , was unveiled with no little sense of relief by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, at an exuberant City Hall press conference. Finally we had something to look at, other than the dizzying procession of zeroes that attaches itself to the Games’ debit column whenever our attention wanders. The mayor was in prime form. The conference was, even by the standards of this most jocular of authority figures, a light-hearted affair. Boris joshed with Anish, Anish shared a laugh with steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, whose £16m has made the project possible, and the famously austere Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, part of the committee that made the choice, was pictured in the accompanying literature in – gasp – an open-necked shirt and no tie. (more)

Orbit Viewing Platform model

Orbit digital renders

Orbit 3D views

Daylight study

Orbit digital render 2011

Olympic Park Fly-through

Orbit fabrication

Press / / / The Telegraph 05.05.2011 / / / The moment Anish Kapoor arrived at the Olympic Park site in East London on a recent visit, he knew that something was wrong. A pile of large steel tubes was lying on the ground. When joined together, they would form the beginnings of the winding steel intestine for his towering new structure, the ArcelorMittal Orbit. But to the acclaimed sculptor’s exacting eye, the painted steel was not the right red. So out went colour number RAL 3002, in came RAL 3003. “I wanted to get it the right shade,’’ says Kapoor, simply. The changes didn’t stop there. The bolts intended to connect the pipes weren’t quite right either. The workers had anticipated a sheath of uniform colour and had had the bolts coloured red. But Kapoor wanted the sculpture to reveal its construction method, so the bolts were returned to galvanised steel, matching the silver grey tone of the 1,150ft spiral staircase that will snake its way down from the top of the Orbit. (more)

Aerial view of the Olympic Park

Press / / / The Independent 25.11.2011 / / / Standing nearly twice as tall as the Olympic Stadium, the crazed and twisted steelwork of the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower is an undeniably impressive piece of engineering. Consider that it was bolted together by just three men, and its loops and spirals seem more imponderable than ever.

Come the 2012 London Games next summer, this scarlet monster standing between the metal colloseum that is the stadium and the swooping roof of the Aquatic Centre will treat 5,000 visitors to exalted views across the Olympic Park every hour. (more)

Final model

Press / / / The Observer 06.05.2012/ / / As planning applications go, it would be fair to say that case #10/90250/FULODA, submitted to the London boroughs of Newham and Waltham Forest planning committees in May 2010, stood out somewhat. In among the loft conversions and Victorian conservatories that mark the staple fare of the weekly planning agenda in this part of east London, this particular file put the sober case for a 115m steel tower in the form of a vast, deconstructed spiral, painted bright red, lit up at night and visible from 10km away. Did the neighbours mind? (more)

Press / / / The Guardian 11.05.2012/ / / Up close the steel tubes that have been bolted together to create Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond's homage to the architecture of dreams are not merely red, as they appear from a distance. They are deeply, organically, warmly and carnally red, a red of freshly exposed arteries and organs. As ever-changing sealskin clouds slide through the sky around it, the tower seems a living being, full of blood, equipped with mysterious organic innards. It even has an arse, or at least a rusted steel horn that hangs below and fulfils the role of a dome, not on top of the building, but below it. (more)

Press / / / The Telegraph 01.04.2014/ / / It should be in a medical textbook, the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The 114m/375ft tall symbol of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a rioting loop of corpuscle-red steel tubing with two viewing galleries of steel, glass and concrete, looks like a Triffid spilling its guts. It should be called the ArcelorMittal Twisted Bowel. You should go. (more)