Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.

Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.
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Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.

Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.

LONDON – An advance advertisement for the Marble Arch Mound – London’s newest tourist attraction – suggested that an Arcadian landscape would be created in the middle of the city, with spectacular views over Hyde Park.

A huge man-made hill, more than 80 feet high, would rise at one end of Oxford Street, London’s busiest shopping district. Costing around £ 2million, or roughly $ 2.7million, the design renderings suggested it would be covered in lush trees and visitors could climb to the top – and “feel a light breeze“against their skin.

The hill was part of a £ 150million Westminster Council plan to attract visitors to the city center after the pandemic. In May, Time Out, London’s leading SEO magazine, described it as “visually striking / bonkers.”

The reality turned out to be somewhat different. Since opening on Monday, the mound has been widely ridiculed online as being more of a folly than a dream – a pile of block scaffolding covered in patches of vegetation that appear to be in danger of slipping, and that it isn’t even. not high enough to look over the trees in Hyde Park.

“It’s a monstrosity,” said Carol Orr, 55, a tourist from Glasgow visiting the mound on Wednesday, who decided not to even attempt a climb.

“You can’t see anything up there,” said Robby Walsh, who had climbed to the top, only to get a view of a Hard Rock Cafe and the neighboring buildings.

“It was the worst 10 minutes of my life,” he said.

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Complaints, including that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money, were so strident that Westminster Council on Monday offered refunds to those who had booked tickets, starting at £ 4.50 . “We are aware that parts of the Marble Arch Mound are not yet ready,” he said in a press release, adding: “We are working hard to resolve this issue over the next few days.” (The board did not respond to a request for comment.)

In a telephone interview, Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV, the Dutch architectural firm behind the project which has already been acclaimed for its work in favor of green cities, said “it’s a real shame” that the hill does not seem complete.

The vegetation was “a bit modest, to put it politely,” he said. The dream behind the project was to create a space that would make people think about how the city could be made greener and used to fight climate change, but that message seemed to have gotten lost this week.

Some of the problems were created by changes to the plan, MVRDV spokesperson Irene Start said in a phone interview. The company had originally hoped to build the hill over the 19th-century marble arch, which is similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

But the company had been told that covering the arch for six months could damage it, so they had to redesign the hill, making it smaller and steeper. Having steeper walls made it more difficult to plant suitable vegetation, she said.

On Wednesday, everyone at the mound was not critical. Alison Nettleship, along with her children, said she heard the bad reviews but decided to visit anyway. “We were prepared for a disaster,” she said, “so it was fun to laugh. “

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His 14-year-old son Thomas said he liked buildings and liked being able to see scaffolding up close. “People are impatient,” he said of the complaints.

The family intended to return in the fall after the trees changed color, Ms Nettleship said.

The mound isn’t the first London tourist attraction to be mocked. The Millennium Dome, a giant white tent erected in the east of the city to celebrate the turn of the millennium, is now home to several successful concert halls, but was widely vilified after it opened in 2000.

Boris Johnson, now British Prime Minister, was the magazine’s editor at the time and suggested the attraction should be blown up because it was so bad. “There must be some form of public humiliation,” he said, adding, “I would love to see everyone responsible for the contents of the dome eat a humble pie.”

Mr Maas, the architect, said he hoped the Marble Arch mound would be improved soon. But on Wednesday, it was clear that whatever happens next, it would be too late for some.

Emma Wright, 39, director of a public relations firm, said in a phone interview that she visited the attraction on Monday because she liked the idea of ​​getting a new view of London. She loves the London skyline so much, she said, she has a tattoo of a city view on her arm.

But instead of a stunning view of Hyde Park, she could only see the park’s existing trees and nearby construction sites. On Twitter, she expressed her displeasure, saying the attraction was “the worst thing I have ever done in London”.

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“I like going for things that are so bad they are good,” Ms. Wright said. “But it’s not even that.”

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