According to British media, the City of Westminster — the district of London where Parliament meets — pumped 2 million pounds (close to $3 million) into the project, which it said would bring a “new and meaningful experience” to the capital.
Before the site opened to the public this week, officials had promised that it would attract tourists back to the heart of London, after more than a year of stringent coronavirus restrictions that left once-bustling areas deserted during a pandemic that claimed almost 130,000 lives in Britain.
One critic dismissed the mound as “an expensive exercise in pointlessness.”
The issues with the mound were spotlighted this week when freelance consultant Dan Barker visited it and documented his findings on Twitter — much to the delight of many followers.
I went to the Marble Arch Mound today. It cost £2 million to build, and today was launch day, but it was still quite quiet.
Here is a short thread with info.
First, the original plan drawings and the marketing description do not quite match reality. pic.twitter.com/Km4YFbxySm
— dan barker (@danbarker) July 26, 2021
Barker, comparing the artist’s sketch of the mound to reality, wrote, “These plans never match reality, but it feels like they could probably clean the area up a bit.”
He went on to share photos of supposed “360 degree views” obscured by leafy trees and areas “full of rubble.”
In a statement, the City of Westminster Council acknowledged that “elements” of the attraction were “not ready” for visitors and said those displeased with their visit had been offered their money back — or a free second visit once the site is in better shape .
A groundswell of uninspired visitors took to social media to detail their experiences.
“Sure, the Marble Arch Mound doesn’t look like the designs but that seems like a weird hill to die on,” joked one user.
Another uploaded photos alongside the caption: “Marble Arch Mound is the worst thing I’ve ever done in London.”
While many saw the funny side of London’s pile of dirt, others branded the entire structure a catastrophic waste of money.
What a waste of money. We are in a climate emergency and need permanent green infrastructure solutions not gimmicks costing £2m.
Think how many community projects could have been supported with that level of funding.#MarbleArchMoundhttps://t.co/UbyZA914xn
— Emily Hamilton (@emilyhamilton86) July 27, 2021
The mound was designed to offer a viewing platform for the Marble Arch, a 19th-century triumphal arch near Hyde Park.
MVRDV, the Dutch architectural team behind the Marble Arch Mound, defended its creation and asked visitors to give the attraction — and nature — time.
The company, which describes itself on social media as a team that creates “happy and adventurous places,” blamed the chaos on London’s “challenging weather” and the unpredictability of working with plants, vowing that the artificial attraction would “get better,” the Daily Mail reported Thursday.
Among tourists and Londoners, confusion swirled as to why exactly the mound had been built.
“Why would I pay to walk up a hill?” one man told the BBC, while another said grudgingly: “I’d go if it was free.”