A hill in Marble Arch that cost £2m to build has closed just two days after it opened, after it was inundated with criticism and forced to offer refunds to unimpressed visitors.
The 25 metre ‘Marble Arch Mound’ was designed by Westminster City Council to create footfall in busy tourist areas of the city by providing great (?!) views of Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Mayfair but safe to say, it’s had a bit of a journey.
When it opened on Monday, tickets to the temporary attraction were offered between £4.50 and £8. For this price, visitors could climb 130 stairs or take a lift to the ‘summit’. Once there, they were offered the chance to enjoy food and drink sold by M&S Food and there were even talks about some light shows in the future.
But people were left unimpressed by its charms.
Some pointed out that it looked like something from the Teletubbies:
The Marble Arch mound? The teletubbies did it better 😂 https://t.co/Dz8cuvUfMZ
One person, Dan Barker, visited it and noted that it did not look like it did in its marketing photos, that the trees that had grown blocked the views, that it was expensive and that hardly anyone had shown up making the fast-track ticket option seem a bit pointless.
“I think they oversold it a bit,” he said.
I went to the Marble Arch Mound today. It cost £2 million to build, and today was launch day, but it was still quit… https://t.co/preZJLt32V
Yesterday, Westminster Council said it would be refunding anyone who visited the hill in its opening week to give it “time to bed in and grow”.
In a statement, it said: “We are aware that elements of the Marble Arch Mound are not yet ready for visitors. We are working hard to resolve this over the next few days.
“The mound is a living building by design. We’ll continue to adapt and improve London’s newest outdoor attraction and resolve any teething problems as they emerge.
“We’re sorry for the delay and look forward to welcoming visitors when they’re ready to enjoy all the mound has to offer.”
And now they have gone one step further and closed the whole cursed thing, admitting it was “not ready”.
A council spokesman said: “It is clear that it is not ready. People who have paid should have the right to go up. But ultimately we know it’s not ready. We acknowledge that. That’s why we are not letting people up.”
Meanwhile, MVRDV – the architects behind the project – blamed the “challenging weather” and how “unpredictable” it is working with plants and trees for how it looked but assured the public “it will get better”.
Speaking to Architects Journal they said: “It is a vulnerable installation, no doubt, but we just need to give nature a bit of time. The mound is designed with not only summer, but also fall and winter in mind; it is meant to have an overall green appearance during the time the installation is in place.”