Stratford Sphere Nixed By Mayor: But Where Else Could They Build It?

By M@ Last edited 8 months ago

Last Updated 23 November 2023

Stratford Sphere Nixed By Mayor: But Where Else Could They Build It?
A model of the Earth over Stratford
How the Sphere would have looked in Stratford. Image MSG Entertainment

Looks like London won't be going to the ball after all.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has refused planning permission for the MSG Sphere, an orb-like stadium with wraparound LED screens. The move followed fierce opposition from local campaign groups who didn't fancy a giant glowing ball so close to residential blocks.

It's the right decision. But also one that leaves mixed feelings for many. We've all seen the video of the original Sphere in Las Vegas, and it's hard not to be impressed at the spectacle. You just wouldn't want to live right next door to it.

If we run with the thesis of "fun idea, but wrong place", then where else in London might the Sphere catch on? We booted up Photoshop to find out...

The Bloomsbury Sphere

A giant orb in Bloomsbury
Background image: Matt Brown

The trouble with Bloomsbury is that it has too many square gardens. Nobody can name them all, or tell them apart. It's all so very samey. Why not add distinction to one of the bigger squares by adding a gargantuan orb? See how it harmonises with the similarly triangulate roof of the British Museum and its crowning dome. OK, so, a few people live in the neighbouring streets. But they're probably either posh or students, so don't really count, right?

The Wembley Sphere

A giant football next to Wembley Stadium
Background image: Matt Brown

Another "fits right in with its surroundings" option would be Wembley Park. Here, the sphere would form a double hump with the stadium's famous arch. One could even spin it as a call-back to the twin towers of the previous stadium. Here, the Sphere could be patterned to resemble a football on match days, where it might transmogrify into the head of Harry Kane or Alessia Russo or whoever scores. Brilliant. On the downside, Wembley Park, like Stratford, is full of new residential towers. But the locals are all very used to big, noisy events from the stadium. This'll be like water off a duck's back to them.

The Richmond Sphere

This whole silly thought experiment was kicked off by novelist and former Londonist writer Will Wiles, who posted this, tongue-in-tweet, on 21 November.

Who could possibly object to a massive, modern, place-changing development which masquerades as something it isn't? But enough about Quinlan Terry's Richmond Riverside...

The Dome-Sphere

The dome, with a cherry on top
Background image: Matt Brown

The Sphere is not, of course, the first globular landmark to trouble the capital. What is the O2 dome if not the one giant spherical cap? Placing the Sphere on top of the dome has numerous advantages:

(a) North Greenwich is already a major entertainment zone, with the O2 one of the most popular and lucrative venues on the planet. This scheme would just be a continuation of function, with increased capacity.

(b) The dome has astronomical data baked into its design, with a diameter of 365 metres representing days, 12 yellow support towers to represent months and a height of 52 metres to reflect weeks. It's also on the Greenwich Meridian. Adding a sphere, which can glow like the rotating Earth, would be a final, crowning touch.

(c) "Up at the O2", the attraction where you get to walk over the dome, would gain a new 'advanced' level challenge.

(d) Curious shape, which would make an excellent "find the volume" challenge for GCSE maths students.

(e) Looks like the top of a giant cupcake.

(f) Or an engorged nipple.

The Shard Sphere

The Shard with two spherical buildings at the base.

Yes, we're just being infantile now.

Got a suggestion for where the MSG Sphere should be built? Convince us in the comments.