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Will W

How is typing "meh" in Twitter lazier than typing "Cool!" in Twitter? It's a medium that demands concision. A short tweet isn't an indication of laziness, tweets must be short. The Orbit in fact provoked long blog posts from most of its critics. Are you suggesting that architectural criticism in general should make an effort to make positivity its default setting?


I think that architectural criticism should seek to be constructive, whatever the format. That's often not the case with tweets. Typing 'cool!' is no better than 'meh', but it seems to me that the default reaction to things that are new is generally negative and dismissive.


Here, here. A very well considered piece, Kosmograd and a damn fine reply. The level of vitriol was perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the launch of Orbital. I think the process by which it was selected was partially to blame but the inability of so-called design journalists to examine why they felt a certain way towards an image, or to understand the constructed nature of that image was astonishing. (Will - I thought you wrote well about this phenomenon too, in a more considered moment.) It may not turn out to be a great bit of work but as you rightly point out, it's not for the reasons twittered. There was almost an imperceptible 'shall we hate it? yes, we shall' behind most of what I read at the time.

Will W

I don't know who (else) you follow on Twitter, but do you really think that people were objecting to this structure just because it is new? I tried to explore some of the knee-jerk snarkiness in my own post about the Orbit, because it was an interesting reaction (instant commentary is a seriously powerful and somewhat unsettling force, as you say), but you're suggesting that the structure provoked the negativity it did just because it was new, and that's how people generally react to new things. I would disagree on the first point and while I know what you mean on the second point it's a generalisation that's riddled with exceptions. Sure there's a lot of knee-jerk "yuk"-ing about, but in this case frankly it seems quite dismissive of you to write off objections as idle neophobia. Really, what would constitute a constructive response here? Passive acceptance seems to be what you're advocating.

Will W

(NB rereading my own comments I come across as sounding a bit angry or offended, I'm not!)


Will, I certainly wouldn't advocate passive acceptance, but I do think an optimistic outlook is a better starting point than the pessimistic. I think that the Twitterverse judged the project far too quickly based on the terrible renders, rather than trying to look beyond them and imagining what it might be like to experience the built form - something that I would have expected more of from architects and architectural critics.

I really liked your blog follow-up post and your worries about being on the 'wrong side of history'. It's taken me over a week to pluck up the courage to post my article for the same reason, albeit from the other side.

But I too cannot rationalise against my initial gut reaction: while it fills you with gloom, I find it exciting, something to look forward too. I also think it will deflect criticism from the blandness of the Olympic stadium, and along with the aquatic centre and the velodrome be one of the defining - dare we say iconic - images of the Olympics.

Will W

I see where you're coming from. I think emotionally we're probably on much the same page - ie trying to filter out the real from the hype/snark.

Funnily enough, given what we're talking about, I wasn't keen on the Olympic stadium when I saw it in renders, but now I rather like it. It's modest, economical, and looks quite lightweight. (Not bad for something so expensive and massive.) One of the reasons I dislike the Orbit is that it could be a bad contrast with that slender white superstructure. Living in the East End I see it a lot, and on Saturday glimpsed it from a new and unexpected angle while on a walk - and I felt a little pang of optimism and excitement myself.


The Shukhov reference hadn't struck me before, but reading your piece, there does seem to be an obvious link with his work. However there's a cleanliness to a Shukhov tower that's all too absent here. If you're lucky enough to be able to look at one of them in the flesh (such as the magnificently abandoned one on the banks of the Oka near Nizhnyy Novgorod) there's a real simplicity to them that's entirely absent from "The Orbit".

Like the logo for London 2012 it seems to be willfully different for its own sake, and deliberately casting aside any wider notions what London means as a brand. Maybe this is a statement of values in and of itself, but I fear it's all a bit too much like Cilit Bang when the city should really be styling itself as a Jaguar.


Ironcially it adopts the Constructivist/ Industrial lineage of aesthetics but sits within a landsca(pe)m which has enforced the Lea valley to sacrifice its rich Industrial heritage and urban fabric to the megalomania of Globalization...as if it is a caricature of industrial collective itself...it isnt a monument to the worker but the man who owns their lives! Mittal...absolutely brilliant, definitely a landmark in stupid thinking! way to go Boris!


It provokes negativity and snarkiness because it's dog ugly, just like everything else London has managed to cobble together for 2012.

Trouble in Xanadu

I agree with Isynge about the willful nature of the structure being part of its problem ... the form seems so illogical that it makes me feel dizzy upon looking at it, and my body feels the instinctive urge to scroll away from the image before I stare at it for too long. The shoddy renderings, of course, reinforce that impression.

The first and fifth images of the structure seem to make the design look better -- they allow you to focus on, and mentally summarize, just a portion of the form rather than the confusing overall big picture. Hopefully that phenomenon means that the structure will look better when viewed from the actual human perspective of the street level or the spaces inside it.

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