United Kingdom

London's £2m Marble Arch Mound is mocked for looking like a 'slag heap' that 'costs 6p a step'

When a £2million project from a world-renowned architect for London's Marble Arch was announced in February, excitement for the 'new perspective on the future' was high.

But today as Dutch designer MVRDV's vision was finally seen by visitors, the only real heights were the £6.50 entrance fee and scale of crushing disappointment.

The Marble Arch Mound was roundly ridiculed today as tourists likened it to a level from Nintendo game Super Mario 64, the Teletubbies' home, or worse still 'seven minutes of work on Minecraft'.

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

Slide me

Design versus reality: The plans for the hill on the left compared to how it has been built

What a view! Marketing expert Dan Barker posted this obscured vision from the mount tip

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

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. 

Slight Return left no doubt of their opinion on the Marble Arch Mound with this meme

Social media was flooded with disdain for the £2million project and its appearance

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.

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?'

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?’ 

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.’

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