In Focus

Marble Arch Mound: London’s £2m ‘s**t hill’ roundly ridiculed

People who visited installation during first week offered free return tickets due to ‘teething problems’

A new tourist attraction in London’s Marble Arch has fallen short of expectations, with visitors describing the £2m manmade mound as a “s**t hill” and “the worst thing I’ve ever done in London”. 

The 25-metre-tall Marble Arch Mound is a temporary installation commissioned by Westminster City Council and designed by the Rotterdam-based architecture studio MVRDV. 

The Oxford Street District website describes the mound, which has 134 steps, as being “a park-like landscape of grass and trees” which “gives visitors striking views of London and the park, and a new perspective of Marble Arch itself”. Tickets start from £4.50 with a “fast-track” weekend ticket costing £8.

The artificial mountain is located on the western end of Oxford Street, where around 17% of shops have closed completely during the pandemic, says The Guardian. It is hoped to be “the kind of novelty experience that will lure people back to the West End”, the paper adds, “providing an opportunity for highly shareable Instagram moments, beyond selfies with armfuls of Selfridges bags”.

But after opening its doors to the general public on Monday, the mound has faced a barrage of criticism from visitors and ridicule on social media, primarily for looking nothing like its glossy artist’s impression. “The site’s bare and sparse appearance is a sharp contrast to the lush green landscape envisioned in the project’s planning proposals,” says The Telegraph

On its disappointing launch day, tourists “did not see the ‘soaring views across central London and Hyde Park’ from the lush landscape they were promised”, says the London Evening Standard. “Instead they were treated to sights of rubble, building works and scaffolding” from a viewing platform which was “covered in brown turf”.

The hill has been likened “to a level from Nintendo game Super Mario 64, the Teletubbies’ home, or worse still ‘seven minutes of work on Minecraft’”, reports MailOnline. There have also been questions about why “something so artificial-looking has been built next to the great natural expanse of green land that is Hyde Park”, the site adds.

On Twitter, one visitor joked that it cost 5p to climb each step and that introducing fast-track tickets seemed “odd” as “even nearing sunset on launch day” it was “very quiet”. But, “I enjoyed it”, he added. “More as you might enjoy a bad statue of Cristiano Ronaldo, or a car park Santa's Grotto, with dogs pretending to be reindeer, than as a dazzling spectacle. As long as you go with that expectation it is ok – just a shame it cost £2 million.”

Westminster City Council admitted there were “teething problems” and has offered free return tickets to anybody who booked a visit during the first week. “We’ll continue to adapt and improve London’s newest outdoor attraction,” says the council’s statement.

The Marble Arch Mound will be open to visitors until early January 2022. When the installation reaches the end of its run, any materials used “will be recycled where possible to provide a lasting legacy” and the trees and landscape “will be relocated to other parts of the District and local community”, according to the Oxford Street District website.

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