John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
It’s meant to recreate the lofty experience on the London Eye.
Great news, acrophobes: The world has coughed up something new to haunt your dreams. It’s a 531-foot-tall prong on the beaches of Brighton, England, whose vertically sliding “observation pod” offers panoramic views of land and sea.
The British Airways i360, designed by London Eye creators Marks Barfield Architects, features a towering but super-slim build reminiscent of Paul Bunyan’s ski pole. In fact, Guinness World Records has crowned it the “most slender tower” in existence, with its roughly 13-foot girth giving it a “slenderness ratio of 41.15.” The architects say they built it to appease people wanting another London Eye:
Ever since the project’s completion, people have been asking us whether we intend to replicate it elsewhere. The London Eye has been an extraordinary success—far more so than anyone ever imagined. The question, of course, arises why this should be so and one can only conclude that it is all about the views. It seems people enjoy vantage points that provide unique views, fresh aspects, new horizons, not least from above. Indeed, it seems a universal desire to see the earth and its cities from high places: It is a please to the eyes and the intellect to seek out and find the reference points and recognize the landmarks, to make visual connections, to see wider horizons. The British Airways i360 will deliver a similar experience—entertaining, informing, exciting, and inspiring.
The pod, opening this summer, can hold 200 budding cosmonauts and takes 10 minutes to climb all the way to the top—that’s a far cry from the pants-wetting carnival rides that look much like it. (Maybe you can slip the operator some moolah to speed it up a bit.) Here are a few more images and renderings: