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19 Feb 2021
Architects MVRDV reveal ambitious plans to create Marble Arch visitor attraction for London
By Tom Walker
Architects MVRDV reveal ambitious plans to create Marble Arch visitor attraction for London
The 25m-tall attraction will offer views over the surrounding areas
Photo: MVRDV 2021
A new visitor attraction at London's Marble Arch is set to anchor ambitious plans to "reimagine" the city's famous Oxford Street shopping district.

The planned Marble Arch Hill visitor attraction, designed by architects MVRDV, is part of plans to attract people back to Oxford Street following the coronavirus pandemic.

Considered Europe’s busiest shopping street, Oxford Street has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 measures.

Plans are already underway to diversify the street’s spaces, but the changes will take a number of years.

In the short term, Westminster City Council is seeking to use a temporary installation to create renewed interest in the area as London could be emerging from the conditions imposed by the pandemic.

Subject to securing planning approval, the 25m-tall attraction will offer visitors views over the surrounding areas.

The design comprises a "hollowed-out mountain", based on a scaffolding structure and will look to redefine the connection between Oxford Street and Hyde Park.

MVRDV's proposal for the installation takes inspiration from the history of the site. Marble Arch once marked the corner of Hyde Park, but in the 1960s new roads were added that turned the arch into a traffic island, disconnected from the rest of the park.

The design introduces a park-like landscape of grass and trees, and ‘lifts’ the recreated corner of Hyde Park to create the 25-metre-tall viewpoint.

“This project is a wonderful opportunity to give an impulse to a highly recognisable location in London”, said MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas.

“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.

"We enlarge the park and lift it at the corner. 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?”

Due to open later this year – if planning approval is secured – the attraction is expected to attract around 200,000 people while operational.

"Our proposed Marble Arch Hill temporary visitor attraction at Marble Arch signifies our ambitious approach to the District," said Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan.

"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.

"We want visitors to appreciate the wider context of this iconic location and its close connections to Oxford Street and Hyde Park, as well as other key destinations in the West End and beyond."

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