UK’s tallest sculpture will soon sport the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide, as part of an attempt by the London Legacy Development Corporation to attract more tourists and visitors. Designed by Cecil Balmond and Anish Kapoor, of Arup, the 376-foot (nearly 114-meter) ArcelorMittal Orbit was originally constructed as an observation tower for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. According to the new plan, a 591-foot (approx. 180-meter) long tube slide will soon be built around the sculpture.
The project, jointly undertaken by Bblur Architecture and Buro Happold Engineering, envisions a semi-transparent tunnel, with intricate stainless steel latticework, extending from the tower’s observation deck all the way to the ground. Rising up to 249-feet above ground level, the slide will spiral five times around the tower, before plunging into a 164-foot (about 50-meter) drop. Lasting for a total of 37 seconds, the ride will offer breathtaking views of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the eastern part of London. Speaking about the project, Peter Tudor, an official at the park, said:
It’s about adding another attraction to the attraction. We’ve already got Anish Kapoor’s mirrors that turn everything upside-down, and the view. We’re looking at what other experiences can we provide to engage with the sculpture.
The slide is slated to open in spring of 2016, and will cost only around $8 (£5) per person. Tudor added:
Now we’ve got to work out how to attach it to the sculpture. It will be manufactured off-site. The real challenge is the construction process – whether to scaffold around the sculpture or whether it can be done by abseiling… The entry will be on the low platform and it’ll come down to the ground winding in and out of the legs of the Orbit. So it will fit within the silhouette of the sculpture – but you will be able to see it. The slide starts in darkness [on the platform] and then you get outside and it’s in blazing light.