The Dutch architects behind the universally panned Marble Arch mound have hit out at Westminster City Council, the UK media, the builders of the mound, English Heritage and Historic England for the project failing to live up to its promise.
In a post on their website, architects MVRDV say “anyone who visited the Marble Arch Mound installation was no doubt severely underwhelmed” but place most of the blame on Westminster City Council.
MVRDV claim warnings that opening the Mound prematurely were ignored and say the “nonsensical” decision to do “was nothing short of a disaster.”
The disastrous project, the costs of which ballooned to £6m, saw Westminster’s Deputy Leader Mervyn Caplan forced to resign.
The firm also claims that the original design, which wrapped around Marble Arch, was kiboshed by English Heritage and Historic England, with Westminster eventually deciding to move the hill to the side “away from optimal sightlines.”
MVRDV criticise “what we believe was a lack of vision and transparency.”
The firm also claims it was “systematically excluded from communication with the executive architect and landscape architect” once builders FM Conway were brought on board. The Dutch architects claim Westminster commissioned the builders and “then barely looked at (the project) again.”
Covid-19 travel restrictions also come under fire from the architects.
“Many details concerning the mound’s construction were decided without our involvement. A few pictures of the progress of the installation and the claim that everything was going marvellously was all that we had to work with in Rotterdam.
“Travel was not possible due to Covid measures, so the team could not check progress on site, and frequent communication efforts from our side toward Westminster were increasingly ignored,” the blog post reads.
The architects claim they were told to “remain silent” by Westminster City Council and were “assured… the hill would be restored, re-planted, and improved.”
When the architects arrived, they say “the deception was obvious: there had been virtually no maintenance, making the waste of money complete.”
“In our thirty years of practice, MVRDV has never before experienced such nonchalance and laxity with our design work.”
Westminster City Council has been contacted for comment. The blog post was first spotted by the Telegraph’s Ben Gartside.