A few months ago everyone was breathlessly reporting that London was getting a brand new hill. Yards of column inches were spilled as papers and magazines, ourselves included, raved about Westminster Council’s decision to build a 75-foot foliage filled hillside at Marble Arch.
Two million pounds and several months later the council yesterday proudly unveiled the capital’s most underwhelming tourist attraction ever. Before promptly closing it again this morning after every single Londoner agreed that it really is the sh*ttest thing they’ve ever seen; up there with ULEZing the North and South Circular.
I went to the Marble Arch Mound today. It cost £2 million to build, and today was launch day, but it was still quite quiet.
Here is a short thread with info.
First, the original plan drawings and the marketing description do not quite match reality. pic.twitter.com/Km4YFbxySm
— dan barker (@danbarker) July 26, 2021
The plans, submitted by Dutch design firm MVRDV, were certainly beautiful. A stunning hillside that guests could ascend and enjoy the view from the peak. The reality, however, could not be further from the truth.
They're closing the whole thing while they get a handle on the situation...
Fairly derided by the public as ‘a two million quid slag heap’, ‘scaffolding covered in B&Q turf’ and a ‘shit hill’, the sparsely covered structure charged between £4 and £8 to visitors to climb the 135 steps.
Even the promised 360-degree view from the top was also derided, with the park hidden by trees and buildings built just a little taller than the hill meaning that there are no real views of London either.
After all the criticism the council have promised to reimburse anyone who went up the hill, and have today announced that they’re closing the whole thing while they get a handle on the situation.
The hillside, with it’s lack of greenery and unnerving angles could not be further from the promises made by Westminster Council and is, so far at least, a complete failure. Which is a setback given this was meant to be a tourist attraction that would somehow (and this bit was never quite explained) lead to more shoppers on Oxford Street. Shopkeepers might have been more grateful if the £2m the council splurged on the project had simply been handed out.
There’s still a chance that, after applying the thumbscrews, Westminster will be able to get MVRDV to quite literally spruce things up. But if they really want to make the big bucks, rather than building a foolish hill why not open up the actual Marble Arch? The public would love the chance to go inside (it housed a police station until the 1960s) and climb its historic steps and learn a little more about its history (it was originally meant to sit in front of Buckingham Palace, for instance, and now is located by the old Tyburn Gallows).
Meanwhile, anyone wanting to mount the mound will have to wait until Monday 9th August, when it’s expected to be finally finished…