This is the view from John Lewis’s Olympic gift shop at Westfield Stratford. Here you can buy all kinds of sponsored trinkets and souvenirs for London 2012, but thankfully this view is so far logo free. Here are the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatic Centre, the Water Polo Arena and the Orbit, Anish Kapoor’s sculptural look-out tower.
The view from the top is spectacular, but the experience is really about the journey to reach it and moving through this enormous sculpture. Kapoor refers to the story of the Tower of Babel.
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.
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.
There is also something of Tatlin’s Tower of 1919 about it too, the utopian monument planned for St Petersburg that proved impossible to build, with its twin helix form of concentric spirals rotating at different speeds.
Maybe in time the Orbit may come to symbolise London as the Eiffel Tower does for Paris and perhaps before too long John Lewis’s gift shop may sell Orbit souvenirs.
See more here.