Carsten Höller has turned Anish Kapoor’s ‘zombie pylon’ into a 178m corkscrew thrill-ride – our architecture critic pulls on his helmet and takes the plunge
Never has an attraction promised so much yet delivered so little. It was the roller coaster without a ride, the helter skelter without a slide, a £20m mountain of steel leering above London’s lean Olympic stadium as a mocking monument to the vanity of the city’s former mayor, Boris Johnson, and its funder, the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
Designed by artist Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the ArcelorMittal Orbit was conceived as a money-making machine, intended to reap £1.2m a year for the upkeep of the Olympic park. Instead it has cost the taxpayer £10,000 a week to maintain. Of all of Johnson’s follies, from the empty Thames cable car to the overheating bus, it has been the most useless totem pole of mayoral hubris.