Google+ London Architecture Blog: Week 21 13 Feature #14 London Eye

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Week 21 13 Feature #14 London Eye

London Eye
Date Completed: 2000
Location: South Bank, London Borough of Lambeth  

The London Eye was designed by the husband and wife team of David Marks and Julia Barfield and was constructed 1998-2000. The eye was originally named the Millenium Wheel and since its opening has become an icon on the London skyline and is visited by approximately 3.5 million visitors a year.

The observation wheel was originally designed to only stand on the site for five years, but owing to its popularity, a 25 year lease agreement was granted in 2006. The movement of the wheel represents the concept of the end of the twentieth century and moving into a new millenium. The capsules are entered at ground floor level beside Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the River Thames and take 30 minutes for a full rotation.

The eye is 135m tall and the construction of the eye consists of a series of concrete foundations and piles drilled deep into the ground with a concrete and steel A frame providing the vertical structure. At the top of this, steel tension cables fix the eye into position. The spindle system and outside rim are constructed from steel and are connected via a series of steel tension cables similar to the design of a bicycle wheel.

The eye is constructed from components originating from around Europe including the main steel frame by Hollandia in the Netherlands, steel cables from Italy, bearings from Germany, the spindle from the Czech Republic, capsules by Poma from France and electrical components from the UK.

Connection between the A frame and concrete foundations.
It was constructed at a cost of £70m and contains 32 capsules representing the 32 Boroughs of London. The capsules are connected to the outside of the rim frame via two pivot connections which allow the capsules to balance out during rotation whilst maximising the panoramic views. In addition the capsules provide heating, AC and seating and are available for private hire through the EDF London Eye website.

Detail of a capsule
The eye is lit by a series of LED lights fixed to the rim of the wheel which change colours for special events and during the fireworks display on New Years Eve. Throughout its lifetime, the eye has had three sponsors starting with British Airways which was followed by Merlin Entertainments and then the current sponsor, EDF Energy.

LED lighting.
Construction credits: Mace (construction management), Hollandia (steelwork contractor), Tilbury Douglas (Civil contractor), Tony Gee and Partners (Engineers) and Beckett Rankine (Engineers).

The London Eye on the South Bank

Approach to the London Eye

The eye and Westminster Palace

Detail of the structure

Detail of the cables and frame

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