Important local link to Olympics

AS residents eagerly anticipate the Olympic torch procession through Angus on June 12 (see front page story), an important local connection to the forthcoming Olympic Games is revealed.

Kathryn Findlay, the architect of the £23.5 million iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit at the London Olympic Park hails from Angus.

She grew up on her father’s sheep farm at Finavon and retains connections with the area, despite now living in London.

Kathryn, of Ushida-Findlay architects, still draws inspiration for her work from her early years in Angus.

She says: “The landscape, quality of light, natural textures and materials were very evocative and inspiring and have always been part of my work.”

The ArcelorMittal Orbit tower is 114.5 metre high and consists of two observation decks with Kapoor’s mirror sculptures located within the upper deck, and a six storey corten steel Kapoor bell suspended over the entry approach.

Says Kathryn: “Together with Arup engineers, we transformed the sculpture into a building which visitors could journey through. We designed the lift, stair, entry and plant pavilions and co-ordinated the interfaces between the architecture and engineering.

“I was also the link between the artists and the construction team. The challenge was to retain the integrity of the artwork whilst making it a building safe and pleasurable to be in.”

Kathryn has other Tayside links. She was a Professor at Dundee architecture school from 2005 -7, teaching there since 2004. Previously she was Associate Professor at Japan’s premier university from 1998-2001.

She was the first woman academic in the department and the first foreign teacher since Josiah Conder, who brought western architecture to Japan in the Meiji period.

She adds: “My strongest link to Dundee was being instrumental in persuading the V&A to consider opening a museum there.”