India Inc India Inc: Friday, 11 May 2012 15:08

Special Report: The Orbit of India-UK cooperation

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OrbiteditedIt all began with a chance encounter between an Indian billionaire and a London politician at a cloakroom in Davos in 2009. 

ArcelorMittal chairman and CEO Lakshmi N. Mittal took minutes to be convinced about London mayor Boris Johnson’s idea of an iconic metal structure to symbolise the 2012 Olympics. 

Over three years later, the ArcelorMittal Orbit (pictured) is now ready as the latest sign of India-UK collaboration.

“From when it was initially suggested, it has only become larger than expected. Participating in building something for the Olympic Games that was unique and could be made from our own steel appealed to me... ArcelorMittal plants from across the world contributed to this showcase of the strength and versatility of steel,” explains the steel tycoon, whose company has supplied 2,000 tonnes of steel from across Western Europe, Africa and Asia for the building at an investment of £19.6 million.

“We are grateful for the Mittal dosh, without which this would not have been possible. It delivers jobs, creates a legacy and is a symbol of prosperity and growth. It is also a symbol of cooperation between London and India,” added recently re-elected mayor Johnson at the opening of the Orbit this week.

The asymmetrical structure has been designed and conceptualised by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond and will open as a ticketed visitor attraction alongside the Games in July.

“It is an awkward structure, with its elbows sticking out. It breaks all norms and keeps unsettling. There will inevitably be those that love it and those that hate it,” said Kapoor, whose design was picked out of over 40 entries.

Steel was chosen for the new Orbit because of its properties of strength, modular structure and advantages of weight and speed of construction. Nearly 60 per cent of the total steel required was drawn from recycled sources, underlining its status as the world’s most recyclable material.

The Orbit, which will pass on to the London Legacy Development Corporation, is expected to attract 1 million visitors a year in the future.

by Aditi Khanna

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