Home » Visitors Head To Marble Arch Mound As London Attraction ‘so Bad It Was Good’ Prepares To CLOSE

Visitors Head To Marble Arch Mound As London Attraction ‘so Bad It Was Good’ Prepares To CLOSE

A London attraction described as ‘so bad it was good’ after it was beset by criticism has seen a rush of visitors just hours before it permanently closes.

Queues were seen forming around the controversial £6million Marble Arch Mound in central London, which has endured six months of mockery and ridicule for its ‘underwhelming’ views and was named as the ‘capital’s worst tourist attraction’.

A tongue-in-cheek petition was even set up urging the council to ‘save’ the Marble Arch Mound, attracting just under 100 signatures.

Queues were seen forming around the controversial £6million Marble Arch Mound today

Reviews for the 82ft high mound of scaffolding, wooden boards and turf were so critical that Westminster City Council was forced to scrap the entrance fee.

It even led to the resignation of one council chief, who stepped back after what the authority’s leader described as a ‘totally unacceptable’ rise in costs.

But the decision to close the much-derided mound from after today seems to have resulted in a sudden surge of interest, with Londoners rushing to see the attraction before they miss their chance for good.

One petition signatory said the mound was ‘a remembrance to things so bad they’re good’

Taking to Twitter about their historical visit, some remained remorseless in their review of the attraction.

One seemed to express surprise at their being ‘an actual queue for the Marble Arch Mound on its final day before it goes to the big compost heap in the sky.’

Another wrote: ‘Went to pay my respects to the Marble Arch Mound before it closes – rip you lump of mud, still not quite sure why you were built.’

Last hours: There was a surge in visitors as the Marble Arch Mound prepared to close its doors

The fair weather on Sunday brought crowds to the attraction, despite unfavourable reviews

Dozens of visitors were seen visiting the attraction just hours before it closed permanently

One visitor even posted a picture of her view from the attraction – with the entire mound descended upon by a flock of pigeons.

She wrote wryly: ‘Checked out the Marble Arch mound on its final day. It was everything I thought it would be and more.’

Meanwhile, a tongue-in-cheek petition launched to ‘save’ the Marble Arch Mound has attracted just under 100 signatures.

Those behind the mock petition say the tourist spot – which has had more than 250,000 visits since its opening in July – has become an ‘icon of modern London’ and ‘must not be cut down in its prime’.

The Change.org petition, set up by Alexander Bowen, says: ‘Constructed in May 2021, at a cost of £6million, the Marble Arch Mound has since become an icon to Londoners and tourists alike.

For six months London’s £6million Marble Arch Mound has been mocked and ridiculed – even earning the unwanted title as ‘capital’s worst tourist attraction’.

With the much-derided mound set to close on Sunday, it has gained somewhat of a cult status. Londoners are now rushing to see the mount before it shuts.

Others meanwhile have expressed disappointment at missing their chance to see the attraction – if only to witness how bad it is for themselves

So bad were the reviews for the 80ft high mound of scaffolding, wooden boards and turf that Westminster Council were forced to scrap the entrance fee

A tongue-in-cheek petition has now been launched urging the council to ‘save’ the Marble Arch Mound

‘The aim of this petition is to ask Westminster City Council to extend its lifespan beyond the proposed 9th of January dismantlement date.

‘This icon of modern London and celebration of life during the Covid deconfinement period should be preserved and the many happy memories people have enjoyed on it should continue to take place.

‘The Mound is both a piece of art and a piece of community – it must not be cut down in its prime especially in light of the money and joy already invested into it.

‘Our message is simple – #SaveTheMound.’

One signatory wrote that it ‘must serve as a remembrance to things so bad they’re good. Long live the Mound’.

Another wrote: ‘I think it’s one of the modern Wonders of the World, like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon!’

Others joined in the fun on social media, with one Twitter user sharing the petition, along with the message: ‘The Marble Arch Mound is a divine template for what the National Theatre or Shoreditch Car Park could one day aspire to be.

‘We mustn’t be indifferent to its proposed destruction. This is our Library of Alexandria.’

On Twitter, one user said if the tourist attraction: ‘The Marble Arch Mound always felt like something built by a team on The Apprentice.’

Twitter user Tasha Marie added: ‘Part of me really wishes I could have seen the Marble Arch Mound.

‘It almost seems like a piece of satire and I’d love to experience how c***p it actually was.’

David Bedwell: ‘Gutted I never made it down to London to see that Marble Arch mound thing. I bet it looks even worse in person.’

Molly Green wrote: ‘You can politicise it all you want. Marble Arch mound is hilarious and an epic fail. I love it, keep doing you babe.’

Others have been less forgiving in their critique. One Twitter user wrote: ‘Marble Arch Mound is finally closing, was a complete waste of money and adds nothing special to the West End.

‘I’ve been up close to it but never bothered climbing it. Much better views from the London Eye.’

Another wrote: ‘The London Mound, a £6million, so called tourist attraction, at Marble Arch closed today after six months.

‘It has been widely ridiculed. What a waste of money!’.

But the mound did have its defenders, chief among them Tony Devenish, a Conservative London Assembly member for West Central London.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘The reality of the Marble Arch Mound is that it drove footfall at a time when the West End was trying desperately to protect jobs and recover from the impact of Covid.’

Others are rushing to Marble Arch just to see the mound before it closes.

Ben Cooper went to see the structure after seeing it being ridiculed online. He told MyLondon: ‘I knew it because it was a bit of a meme. That’s the whole reason I went up. They could’ve done better.

‘It’s underwhelming. You get up there and it is quite bleak. It’s quite sad. If they had trimmed the trees just a bit you could have had a beautiful view of Oxford Street.’

The mound, designed by world-renowned Dutch architects MVRDV, and built by construction firms NRP and FM Conway, was designed to give views of the capital’s Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone.

It was part of a scheme by Westminster Council to increase footfall in the shopping district in the wake of lockdown restrictions and promised to off ‘a one-of-a-kind viewing experience in the centre of London’.

But much of the view into Hyde Park was obstructed by trees, while many found the view bland and obstructed by metal safety wires.

Others slammed the attraction as a ‘waste of money’ with tickets originally costing as much as £8 for an adult.

It was roundly ridiculed and likened it to a level from Nintendo game Super Mario 64, the Teletubbies’ home, or worse still ‘seven minutes of work on Minecraft’.

Others nicknamed it ‘Sh*t Hill’ and dubbed it the ‘worst tourist attraction in London’.

Refunds were offered to members of the public on July 26 following what the authority called ‘teething problems’ with the attraction.

And the council eventually opted to scrap the charge to go on the attraction amid a flurry of complaints.

MailOnline understand that since then it has been visited more than 250,000 times.

But it cost the job of Melvyn Caplan, the deputy leader of Westminster City Council, who resigned after the total costs of the project, which was planned at around £3million, hit a staggering £6million.

The mound, designed by world-renowned Dutch architect MVRDV, and built by construction firms NRP and FM Conway, was designed to give views of the capital’s Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone

It was part of a scheme by Westminster Council to increase footfall in the shopping district in the wake of lockdown restrictions and promised to off ‘a one-of-a-kind viewing experience in the centre of London’

But much of the view into Hyde Park was obstructed by trees, while many found the view bland and obstructed by metal safety wires

It was roundly ridiculed and likened it to a level from Nintendo game Super Mario 64, the Teletubbies’ home, or worse still ‘seven minutes of work on Minecraft’. Others nicknamed it ‘Sh*t Hill’ and dubbed it the ‘worst tourist attraction in London’

Refunds were offered to members of the public on July 26 following what the authority called ‘teething problems’ with the attraction. And the council eventually opted to scrap the charge to go on the attraction amid a flurry of complaints

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.

Meanwhile, it was revealed earlier this month that that the Westminster City Council official who oversaw the controversial Marble Arch Mound 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 £150 million 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.

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

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

MVRDV, the Dutch firm which designed the Marble Arch Mound, had previously built a series of high-profile structures, including the futuristic ‘Market Hall’ in Rotterdam, which has become one of the city’s main attractions.

They 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 ‘pixelated’ 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.

Council leader Rachael Robathan said at the time: ‘Our proposed Hyde Park Hill temporary visitor attraction at Marble Arch signifies our ambitious approach to the Oxford Street district.

Reality and fantasy: The council admitted this afternoon the mound was not ready and refunds would be given all week

Inside the mound, which visitors see as they exit the attraction, features a complicated scaffold structure

‘It will be important for bringing in visitors to support the local economy. However, it will offer so much more.

‘We hope it will give people an opportunity to look afresh and with wonder at this well-known, but sadly increasingly overlooked, area to recognise its beauty and importance.’

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: ‘It’s not enough, 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 Marble Arch Mound will be open until Sunday and free ticketed time slots are available online.

Dismantling of the attraction, which begins on January 18, could take up to four months, reports the Evening Standard.

A Westminster City Council spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The Mound has done what it was built to do – drawn crowds and supported the recovery in this part of London.

‘We’re really pleased that over 242,000 people have visited to see the Mound and the terrific light exhibition inside.’

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

The Westminster City Council official who oversaw the controversial Marble Arch Mound 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 £150 million 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.

It is also significantly higher than the £161,401 salary paid to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mr Eisenstein was also received a generous pension contribution of £24,441.

At the time he joined the council, Mr Eisenstein was hailed as a ‘a cities and regeneration expert with two decades of experience’.

But he stepped down just a year later after a highly critical internal review into the mount project, costs were described as ‘avoidable’ and ‘devastating’.

The mound attracted a mixed response, including from comedian Matthew Highton on Twitter

The Marble Arch Mound installation at the time it opened to the public last July

The council’s deputy leader, Conservative Councillor Melvyn Caplan, also resigned following the trebling of the original £2 million set aside for the mound.

The £6million artificial hill was erected next to Marble Arch as a way to lure shoppers back to Oxford Street after 17% of its shops shut following the pandemic, but it received a mixed reception.

At the time of its opening in July last year, the 25metre hill was already reported to be suffering in the extreme heat, with questions asked about whether it would last until its end date of January 2022.

It is due to be dismantled in the coming weeks.