Would you dare go all the way up?
Brighton, a seaside city in England is famous for housing the world’s thinnest observation tower, that has a diameter of only 3.9 meters with a height-to-width ratio of over 40:1. Designed by Marks Barfield Architects, the same firm behind the famous London Eye Wheel, the i360 coastal observation tower in Brighton resembles a giant needle in the center of the city. The tower is only 12.8 feet at its widest point and stands tall at a height of 162 meters or 531 feet. The observation tower is popularly known as a vertical cable car as it drives a tourist-filled pod up and down and can be rightfully called as an engineering marvel.
But the path to the tower was filled with obstacles (not the literal path) as founders David Marks and Julia Barfield had trouble securing the necessary funding for the i360 tower. The project posed a series of technical challenges which most banks and investment funds were not ready to deal with. Fortunately, in 2013, the duo managed to secure £36.2 million ($48.2 million) of the £42.2 million ($56.2 million) construction costs from the government’s public works loans board, a scheme only accessible for projects.
The most challenging task was building a solid foundation for such a thin structure and that too in a seaside city where winds could reach speeds of 130km/h but the Marks Barfield Architects strongly took up the challenge and now the tower can withstand winds blowing at a speed of 161 km/h.
As the name suggests, the i360 observational tower offers a 360-degree view of the entire Brighton city and the coastline. The visitors “glide” up to the top in the world’s first vertical cable car technology. The glass pod at the top measures 59 meters in diameter and can accommodate 200 passengers at one time.