Craig Barnshaw, Working On The Orbit.

Feb 25, 2017 | News


The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture often referred to as Orbit Tower or Orbit is a 114.5 meter-high sculpture with a spiral twist of double curved metal profiles. ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture was designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond who believed that Orbit represented a radical advancement in the architectural field. The ArcelorMittal Orbit successfully combined metal public art sculptureand structural engineering both in beauty and stability. It is twisted such that visitors can engage in an excellent experience by its incorporated spiral walkway. The Mittal Orbit Sculpture is Britain’s most significant and tallest piece of metal public art sculpturesseen in history. The Mittal Orbit sculpture is built strategically with bold designs of curved aluminum extrusions andsecond curved aluminum profiles. It is one of the world’s most massive tunneled towers.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture arose curiosity and wonders of London citizens and visitors across the globe. It resulted in a quantum leap for the architectural field and metal public art sculpture, as it was able to bring to actualization such beauty of aluminum art that has never been known. It is built majestically and being raised 376 ft high which included twisted curved profiles. The Mittal Orbit sculpture is unique and represents the landmark for Britain’s public art sculptures. With its three-dimensional metal forming, the ArcelorMittal Orbit Sculpture is an iconic structure that could be matched with the Eiffel Tower in year to come.


Construction of the Mittal Orbit came to life through the verse efforts of highly skilled and knowledgeable engineers and technicians. This expertise effectively inculcated their years of experience with curved aluminum extrusionsinto the development of this majestic metal public art sculptures. The project started as a simple initiative when it was felt that the Olympic Park needed something extra that could arouse the amazement of Londoners and visitors at the Olympics in 2012. The Metal Orbit was designed by the Turner-Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor and one of the world’s leading designers Cecil Balmond. The name “ArcelorMittal Orbit” combines the name of Mittal’s company, who was the chief sponsor of the project, with Orbit, the original working title for Kapoor and Balmond’s design.

Sir Anish Kapoor one of the designers of the Mittal Orbit

Craig Barnshaw and his company was contracted to help produce a complex staircase that would enable a better understanding of the metal sculpture while descending the Orbit. Craig Barnshaw, a metal bending expert participated actively in aiding stability of the three-dimensional metal formingOrbit. Craig Barnshaw brilliantly develops the forming techniques for the bending and spiral twist of the Curved profiles. The staircase required numerous sections of varying lengths and curves to achieve a twist that would smoothly suit the design peculiarities of the metal public art sculpture. Many weeks went into testing of the formed parts ensuring accuracy and consistency of the resulting fabricated frame. Craig Barnshaw and his team undertook meticulous in-house research before final supply of the gigantic three dimensional metal formed parts.

Craig Barnshaw and his engineers engaged tirelessly in developing the calculation program and forming processes for this massive public art sculpture. This included training the machine operators on the processing involved in arching the three-dimensional metal formed Orbit. This metal public art sculpture was built with several sections. The sections needed to have a twist applied during the bending to ensure the angle was correct.  The public art sculpture was constructed from 2,000 tons of Mittal’s steel. Impressively, 60% of the steel came from re-cycled sources. The curved parts were moderately designed with double curved aluminum profiles. The sculpture provided a spectacular view of the vast Olympic Park and permit visitors to view the capital’s landmark. Little wonder, it is oftentimes referred to as the landmark Orbit Tower.


The Arcelor Mittal’s Orbit built with a structural twist provides stretching panoramas across East of London and over the city. The largest of the spiraled sections were 12″× 4″ spiraled HSS sections. These sections form the main ribs of the stairs. Much of technological innovations were imputed into the construction of the Orbit, clearly distinguishing it from its rival; the considerably taller Eiffel Tower which is rigidly symmetrical. With its fine double curved profiles, the ArcelorMittal Orbit appears as a helter-skelter staircase surrounded by an anarchic, near-random spiraling of red geodesic mesh. The double curved metal profile makes it looks like a barely comprehensible gigantic mysterious tower.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is situated at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London, E20 United Kingdom. About Fifteen hundred tonnes of steel, 35,000 bolts and 19,000 litres of paint went into building the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The red-coloured looking geodesic mesh is RAL 3003. The spiral staircase is 1,150 feet long with 455 steps. It has 2 passenger lifts of 21-person capacity each with an ability to receive up to 750 visitors per hour. The Orbit is fully accessible by wheelchair. It is 22 metres taller than the Statue of Liberty. It has a beautiful design double curved metal profilesuch that if it were a vertical tower, with all the loops all flattened out, it would be taller than the Eiffel Tower.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is steadied by a tuned mass damper with pendulum weighing 40 tonnes and length 2.8 metres. The ArcelorMittal Orbit has 2 indoor 300 square-metre viewing platforms that offer spectacular views of London’s skyline and the city as a whole. There are two distorting concave mirrors that are designed to change one’s sense of space giving a mirror rippling, distorting effect. The Orbit provides a challenging twist on the idea of the towers as viewing point and tourist attraction. Hence, permitting unique observations of the whole Olympic Park.