London Officials Spent $2.7 Million to Build an Art Experience With ‘Soaring’ City Views. Its First Visitors Were Very Disappointed

The local council said it would refund paying customers for their disappointing experiences.

Works continue on the Marble Arch Mound in central London. Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images.
Works continue on the Marble Arch Mound in central London. Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images.

London’s efforts to draw shoppers back to its main retail neighborhood by building a massive grass-covered mound at the bottom of Oxford Street have backfired after the first visitors to the attraction derided it as “the worst” London has to offer.

Local authorities responsible for the Mound have apologized for the “teething problems” and are organizing refunds for people who bought tickets to the £2 million ($2.7 million) attraction during its first week.

Designed by Rotterdam-based architects MVRDV, the 80-foot-tall artificial hill covered with grass and trees can accommodate up to 1,000 visitors a day, who are meant to climb up its 130 steps to enjoy views of London before exiting through the inside of the hollowed-out interior via a shop and café.

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Workers put finishing touches to the Marble Arch Mound on July 25, 2021 in London, England. Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The temporary tourist attraction officially welcomed visitors for the first time on Monday, July 26. But tourists who paid between £4.50 and £8 ($6.25 to $11.10) to climb the attraction in its first week were bitterly disappointed.

Promised “soaring views” across central London and Hyde Park, they were faced with an unfinished canvas of brown turf, construction work, and scaffolding. Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright described its thin sedum matting as “clinging desperately” to the sheer walls of the structure, which he said was dotted with “spindly trees.”

One of the most popular tweets about the attraction was written by one disappointed early visitor who deemed it “the worst thing I’ve ever done in London.”

xA worker puts the finishing touches to the Marble Arch Mound, a new temporary attraction, next to Marble Arch in central London on July 25, 2021. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.

A worker puts the finishing touches to the Marble Arch Mound, a new temporary attraction, next to Marble Arch in central London on July 25, 2021. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.

The public authority responsible for the Mound, Westminster Council, has admitted that some elements of the attraction were “not yet ready” for the public, and invited people to come and enjoy the installation and the landscape “once it has had time to bed in and grow.”

Tickets for the attraction are available to re-book from the beginning of August.

The idea for the Mound was already a subject of derision on social media, with some criticizing the decision to spend £2 million in public money on a fake hill in the middle of a public health crisis, and others comparing it to the grassy knolls inhabited by the popular 1990s children’s TV show characters the Teletubbies. 


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