UPDATE: We have added new night photos of the i360 as the ‘breathing’ lighting has been switched on for the first time. The lights were designed by Do-Architecture and can be programmed to display a range of color and pattern options.
David Marks of Marks Barfield Architects, explains, “The concept for the lighting at the top of the tower is that it ‘breathes’, gently increasing and decreasing in intensity at the average rate of a human being breathing at rest.”
The world’s tallest moving observation tower, British Airways i360, will open to the public this Thursday, August 4th. Designed by Marks Barfield Architects, the firm behind the iconic London Eye, the i360 tower will transport 200 visitors at a time up 138 meters to take in views of the city of Brighton and Hove, the Sussex coast and the English Channel. With a height to width ratio of more than 40:1, the structure was also designated as the most slender tower in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records after topping out in February.
The tower’s sleek, toroidal observation pod is constructed of double-glazed, hand-crafted glass, which will provide a full 360 degree panorama of the surrounding landscape, with views up to 26 miles away. Passengers are welcome to walk around freely inside the pod, or sit and take in the scenery. A pod host will be on board to guide the passenger and stay in communication with the ground via camera and radio links.
At 18 meters in diameter and weighing 94 tonnes, the observation pod is ten times larger than the capsules at the London Eye. The pod is raised and lowered using state of the art cable car technology, while energy recapture technology activated on its descent allows the tower to generate nearly half of the electricity needed to power its ascent.
“We first experienced what impact that heady mix of innovative architecture and engineering, combined with a great view of a great city, can have on the city at the London Eye. How it can be a catalyst for regeneration, breathe new life into forgotten areas and most importantly, give back to the city,” said architect Julia Barfield.
“Once you have experienced this, there is an almost irresistible urge to do it again - to drop another piece of design into the water and watch the ripples. We hope and expect that the i360 can have a similar positive effect on another great city: Brighton.”
At ground level, the single story glazed “Beach Building” will house the tower’s technical and administrative facilities, along with a 400-seat restaurant, a retail area, a play area for children, exhibition space, a tea room and event facilities. The building’s roof extends out toward to seafront to become the boarding area for the pod and contain the ticket office and tea room.
Added architect David Marks, “Located at the landward end of the West Pier on Brighton beach, British Airways i360 is a modern-day ‘vertical pier’ whose purpose is simply to delight, entertain and inspire. Its design, engineering and method of construction are innovative, just as the West Pier was in its time. Visitors are invited to ‘walk on air’ and gain a new perspective on the city, just as the original pier welcomed Victorian society to ‘walk on water’.”
The idea for a ‘vertical pier’ was conceived in 2005 as a collaboration between David Marks and the city of Brighton & Hove and is part of a larger regeneration plan for the Regency Square seafront in Brighton. Construction of British Airways i360 cost £42.2m, with partial funding coming via a loan from from the Government’s Public Works Loans Board (PWLB). Authorities expect interest on the loan will earn the local community more than £1 million a year. Additionally, the Brighton & Hove City Council will receive 1% of all British Airways i360 ticket revenues, in perpetuity – a similar deal to the one that helped realize the London Eye.