Architects behind mocked 'Marble Arch Mound' admit it opened too soon

·Freelance Writer
·3 min read
Works continue on the Marble Arch Mound in central London. The summit of the new 25-metre high installation will provide sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone when it opens to the public in July. The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. Picture date: Tuesday July 13, 2021.
The summit of the new 25-metre high Marble Arch mound provides sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone. (PA)

The Dutch architect company behind the newly-opened Marble Arch Mound installation in central London has defended the installation, following a series of complaints.

The 25-metre mound, planned by Dutch architect company MVRDV, is designed to give views of the capital’s Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone.

It is part of a scheme to increase footfall in the shopping district as lockdown restrictions ease.

But there have been some complaints following its opening that work is still ongoing, with some people taking to social media to pan the attraction – resulting in its temporary closure just two days after being opened.

A steward and no visitors on the Marble Arch Mound in central London which has opened to the public. The summit of the new 25-metre high installation will provide sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone when it opens to the public in July. The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. Picture date: Tuesday July 27, 2021.
A steward and no visitors on the Marble Arch Mound in central London which opened to the public this week. (PA)
The Marble Arch Mound in central London which has opened to the public. The summit of the new 25-metre high installation will provide sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone when it opens to the public in July. The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. Picture date: Tuesday July 27, 2021.
The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. (PA)

A spokesperson for MVRDV acknowledged there were issues and told the Architects Journal that was a “pity the mound opened too soon”.

They added: “It is always unpredictable when you work with plants and trees, especially in challenging weather conditions.

“Because of the recent drought the sedum appears brown and thin – but it will get better.”

The spokesperson said the mound was a “vulnerable installation” and that people “need to give nature a bit of time”.

The Marble Arch Mound in central London which has opened to the public. The summit of the new 25-metre high installation will provide sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone when it opens to the public in July. The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. Picture date: Tuesday July 27, 2021.
A spokesperson for MVRDV acknowledged there were issues with their design. (PA)

Criticism of the installation was widespread on Twitter, with one person describing it as “the worst thing I’ve ever done in London”, while others described it as “a huge pile of dirt”.

Evening Standard journalist Abha Shah said the mound was a “patchy grassed abomination” after her visit.

Visitors are now being offered refunds due to “teething problems” with the attraction.

A day after it opened to the public, parts of the man-made mountain in central London are “not yet ready for visitors”, Westminster Council has admitted, adding it was “sorry for the delay”.

The authority said it is working to resolve issues “over the next few days”.

The view from the Marble Arch Mound in central London. The summit of the new 25-metre high installation will provide sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone when it opens to the public in July. The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. Picture date: Monday June 21, 2021.
The view from the Marble Arch Mound in central London. (PA)
Works continue on the Marble Arch Mound in central London. The summit of the new 25-metre high installation will provide sweeping views of Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone when it opens to the public in July. The artificial hill has been built on a scaffolding base, with layers of soil and plywood forming the mound which has a hollow centre with space for exhibitions and displays. Picture date: Tuesday July 13, 2021.
Works on the Marble Arch Mound in central London before it was opened – and closed – in the same week. (PA)

Anyone who booked a ticket for the first week will be contacted and offered a refund as well as a free return ticket “so they can see the mound at its best”, the council said.

In a statement, Westminster Council added: “The mound is a living building by design.

“We’ll continue to adapt and improve London’s newest outdoor attraction and resolve any teething problems as they emerge.

“We’re sorry for the delay and look forward to welcoming visitors when they’re ready to enjoy all the mound has to offer.”

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