Controversial £6million Marble Arch mound is finally dismantled

Ignominious end of the Marble Arch mound: Ridiculed £6million 82ft-high installation is finally dismantled after just six months after failing to attract visitors

  • Contractors have finally started tearing down London’s ‘disastrous’ £6million Marble Arch Mound
  • The eyesore is being dismantled afafter it was branded the ‘capital’s worst tourist attraction’
  • It was built next to Marble Arch in July in a bid to lure shoppers back to Oxford Street after Covid shutdown
  • But the 82ft mound has been mocked and ridiculed for six months and councillors have quit in shame
  • Contractors have today finally started tearing down London’s ‘disastrous’ Marble Arch Mound after the pile was widely panned.

    The £6million eyesore, which has been scathingly nicknamed ‘S**t Hill’ by pundits, is being dismantled after it was branded the ‘capital’s worst tourist attraction’ and a ‘waste of money’ following six months of relentless mockery and ridicule.

    It was built next to Marble Arch in July last year in a bid to lure shoppers back to Oxford Street shops to give London’s economy a boost after the Covid shutdown.

    But reviews for the 82ft mound of scaffolding, wooden boards and turf were so bad that Westminster City Council scrapped the £8 entrance fee out of embarrassment.

    Much of the view into neighbouring Hyde Park was obstructed by trees, while many visitors found the vantage point ‘bland’ and obstructed by metal safety wires. Refunds were offered just days after it opened, following what the authority called ‘teething problems’.

    One council chief even quit after Labour’s Adam Hug claimed the ‘slag heap’ had ‘brought shame on Westminster across the world’. The local authority also came under fire after it emerged the project’s total costs had ballooned.

    Contractors have today started tearing down London¿s controversial Marble Arch Mound after the eyesore was widely panned

    Contractors have today started tearing down London’s controversial Marble Arch Mound after the eyesore was widely panned

    The £6million pile, nicknamed ¿S**t Hill¿, is being dismantled after it was branded the ¿capital¿s worst tourist attraction¿ and a ¿waste of money¿ following six months of mockery and ridicule

    The £6million pile, nicknamed ‘S**t Hill’, is being dismantled after it was branded the ‘capital’s worst tourist attraction’ and a ‘waste of money’ following six months of mockery and ridicule

    It was erected next to Marble Arch in July last year as a way of luring shoppers back to Oxford Street following the Covid lockdowns

    It was erected next to Marble Arch in July last year as a way of luring shoppers back to Oxford Street following the Covid lockdowns

    But reviews for the 82ft mound of scaffolding, wooden boards and turf were so bad that Westminster City Council scrapped the £8 entrance fee

    But reviews for the 82ft mound of scaffolding, wooden boards and turf were so bad that Westminster City Council scrapped the £8 entrance fee

    Visitors queueing outside the Marble Arch Mound in central London on January 9, 2022

    Visitors queueing outside the Marble Arch Mound in central London on January 9, 2022

    Mountains of money: Westminster council official in charge of the Marble Arch mound fiasco was paid more than the authority’s Chief Executive with a £220,000 salary making him the authority’s highest-paid employee

    Elad Eisenstein was in charge of the Marble Arch Mound

    Elad Eisenstein was in charge of the Marble Arch Mound

    The Westminster City Council official who oversaw the controversial Marble Arch Mound project was the local authority’s highest paid employee during his tenuresurpassing even the chief executive.

    Elad Eisenstein was appointed as Oxford Street district improvement director with a salary of £220,000 in October 2020.

    His role placed him charge of a £150million regeneration programme, including the eye-popping tourist attraction.

    Mr Eisentstein earned even more than the £217,545 paid to the local authority’s chief executive Stuart Love.

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    MailOnline understand that Marble Arch Mound has been visited more than 250,000 times since it opened.

    It was designed by world-renowned Dutch architect MVRDV, and built by construction firms NRP and FM Conway.

    MVRDV have built a series of high-profile structures, including the futuristic ‘Market Hall’ in Rotterdam, which has become one of the city’s main attractions.

    It also designed an infamous pair of apartment towers in South Korea that were unbelievably reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, with a pair of towers joined by a ‘pixelate’ cloud. The project prompted an outcry and was eventually cancelled.

    Winy Maas, founding partner at MVRDV, had helped stoke the anticipation for the Marble Arch Mound prior to its opening.

    He told Architect’s Journal prior to the opening: ‘It’s a location full of contradictions, and our design highlights that.

    ‘By adding this landscape element, we make a comment on the urban layout of the Marble Arch, and by looking to the site’s history, we make a comment on the area’s future.

    ‘Marble Arch Hill strengthens the connection between Oxford Street and the park via the Marble Arch. Can this temporary addition help inspire the city to undo the mistakes of the 1960s, and repair that connection?’.

    Westminster Council were similarly enthused by the design and seemed eager to see the results.

    In the days leading up to the opening Mr Maas seemed to accept that the real hill was not quite up to the standards of the designs.

    He told the Guardian: 'Dit is nie genoeg nie, we are all fully aware that it needs more substance. The initial calculation was for a stair, and then there are all the extras.

    ‘But I think it still opens people’s eyes and prompts an intense discussion. It’s OK for it to be vulnerable.

    ‘Imagine if you lifted up Hyde Park at each of its corners. Speaker’s Corner could be transformed into a kind of tribune, with a perfect view across an endless landscape.’

    The mound cost the job of Melvyn Caplan, the deputy leader of Westminster City Council, who resigned after the total costs of the project ballooned.

    The council’s leader, Rachael Robathan, said in a statement in August that Cllr Caplan had resigned with immediate effect after a ‘totally unacceptable’ rise in costs.

    Much of the view into neighbouring Hyde Park was obstructed by trees and surrounding buildings, while many visitors found the vantage point ¿bland¿ and obstructed by safety wires

    Much of the view into neighbouring Hyde Park was obstructed by trees and surrounding buildings, while many visitors found the vantage point ‘bland’ and obstructed by safety wires

    Refunds were offered to members of the public days after it opened, following what the authority called ¿teething problems¿

    Refunds were offered to members of the public days after it opened, following what the authority called ‘teething problems’

    It was designed by world-renowned Dutch architect MVRDV, and built by construction firms NRP and FM Conway

    It was designed by world-renowned Dutch architect MVRDV, and built by construction firms NRP and FM Conway

    It was revealed earlier this month that that the Westminster City Council official who oversaw the project was the local authority’s highest paid employee during his tenure – surpassing even the chief executive.

    Elad Eisenstein was appointed as Oxford Street district improvement director with a salary of £220,000 in October 2020.

    His role placed him charge of a £150million regeneration programme, including the eye-popping tourist attraction.

    Mr Eisentstein earned even more than the £217,545 paid to the local authority’s chief executive Stuart Love.

    Their salaries were revealed in a document outlining the pay of all 179 Westminster City Council workers earning above £68,000 a year.

    How Marble Arch was originally built to be the grand entrance to Buckingham Palace

    Designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Marble Arch was designed by John Nash – the architect to King George IV – in 1827.

    It was intended to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace and initially stood near where there the central part of the building – complete with the famous balcony – is today.

    Whilst most of its grand panels and statues had been completed by 1830, the death that year of the King led to the sacking of Nash by the Duke of Wellingtonthe then Prime Minister – for overspending.

    Designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Marble Arch was designed by John Nash ¿ the architect to King George IV ¿ in 1827. It was intended to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace and initially stood near where there the central part of the building ¿ complete with the famous balcony ¿ is today

    Designed to be a grand celebration of British victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Marble Arch was designed by John Nash – the architect to King George IV – in 1827. It was intended to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace and initially stood near where there the central part of the building – complete with the famous balcony – is today

    In plaas daarvan, fellow architect Edward Blore was commissioned to complete the Arch in a less ostentatious fashion.

    The Arch itself was completed in 1833, whilst the central gates were added in 1837 – just in time for Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

    When the Arch became overshadowed by Blore’s enlarged Buckingham Palace, the decision was taken in 1850 to move the structure to its current location at Cumberland Gate, where it formed a grand entrance to Hyde Park in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

    It was de-constructed stone by stone and then put back together after making the short journey.

    Egter, in 1908, a new road scheme cut through the park, leaving the Arch separated from Hyde Park. In 1960s, the roads were widened once more, leaving the Arch in its present isolated position.

    In 1970, the Arch gained Grade-1 listed status.

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