As soon as the London Eye opened in the millennium, people fell in love with it; visitors flocked to take a ‘flight’ and it quickly became the UK’s most visited paid-for visitor attraction; 15 years later the London Eye is still Britain’s most popular paid-for attraction with around 4 million visitors a year.
David Marks describes their inspiration for British Airways i360:
“People love to see a landscape from above. Anyone who’s ever visited the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building or the London Eye knows that a bird’s eye view of a famous city is a sight that never leaves you. Landmarks like these not only enhance the skyline – they celebrate the cities they belong to.
“Visitors to the London Eye remember it as an incredible experience. The London Eye has been a huge success, a success that many cities have tried to copy, but there just aren’t that many cities where it would be viable, and smaller wheels don’t provide anything like the same experience.
“This is where the i360 comes in. The i360 design creates a similar visitor experience to the London Eye, one with a view that slowly unfolds as you gradually rise to a great height. Using the experience we gained from creating the London Eye and some innovative engineering the i360 will be the world’s first vertical cable car where passengers can walk around freely inside the moving viewing pod.
“The visitor experience will be amazing. The glass viewing pod is 10 times the size of a London Eye capsule and can hold up to 200 people at one time – with a Sky Bar in the evening – making it a fantastic experience for groups to enjoy the 360 degree views, and a great space for a party.
“We have also incorporated a large beach building into the foot of the tower design with dining, hospitality, exhibition and children’s play facilities, making the i360 much more than just a viewing tower.
“We cannot think of a better place to do this than Brighton. The views are stunning – up to 26 miles of the Sussex coastline, the sea, the UNESCO World Biosphere, South Downs National Park and Regency Brighton and Hove.
“Brighton is already the most popular destination in the South East outside London and the UK’s favourite seaside destination. Last year 11 million people came to Brighton – and 9 million of those visited Brighton beach where the i360 is situated.
“Our vision for the i360 – a ‘vertical pier’ – is to follow in the spirit of the original pier, inviting visitors to ‘walk on air’ and gain a new perspective of the city, just as they ‘walked on water’ in the past and viewed the city from the sea. Our site at the landward end of the old West Pier is absolutely perfect.