British Airway London Eye is often described as Millennium wheel as it is famously known as one of the Millennium project for London. This was built to celebrate the millennium. London eye, the big wheel is located the side of Thames River. This is the world’s fifth biggest structure. Now I am going to discuss what other people or media have said on London eye in different way. The London eye was devised and executed by two young architects Julia Barfield and David Marks and they went to British Airway with the idea which successfully existence as one of the millennium project.
The London eye is 135 metres high that makes it the world’s tallest observation wheel. This is capable of carrying over 800 passengers at one time. It has 32 capsules turn at a 14 metres per a minute and takes 30 minutes to complete one turn. On London Eye website Marks says he wanted to create something uplifting and delightful with the simple ingredients. London eye had a major media focus from the beginning. This was definitely a huge turning point of the architecture and most think this structure successful even the architect, David Marks, he says to be delighted of the result and that has been so widely accepted and acknowledged (www.
londoneye. com/planning). The Times described as “Huge in scale but light in feelings, it is the most transparent building in London”. This has won around forty wards since 2000, such as Annual Design award (2000), 2001 building award, Architectural Practice of the Year. This proves clearly that this building is recognisably successful. However Mira Bar-Hillel, AA student denies London eye is a building which denying the facts of awards given to London Eye (Architects’ Journal 24 /10 /2002).
That seemed to be agreed by Marks himself at one point as he says, “it’s so light and it is not really a building” (The Guardian, August, 30,1999). The one of the big problem of planning as London eyes could cause obstruction of river traffic. ” The authority is concerned that the platform will affect the main navigation channel” (Building, 1999, Issue 07). However after the four weeks trial test, the project was accepted. “As a civil engineering structure, the London Eye is a magnificent success story” (Construction News, Mark Preedy, 21/02/2002).
William says, “The London Eye is one of the architectural and engineering triumph of our time”. (Reinventing the Wheel, by William Wiles, Watermark). However there was the failure, as it did not open on millennium eve for safety reasons, after the clutch on one passenger capsule seized up in last-minute safety check. It was later investigated, as there was something in the clutch, tested by Mace (the company in charge of construction) project director, Tim Renwick. The design of capsule means it has a low centre of gravity that makes them unstable if the passengers move around inside the pod.
To compensate for this, each capsule is fitted with a mechanical levelling system to ensure they remain horizontal. However, in a test carried out, the clutch seized up in the “on” position, which could result in the capsule tipping upside down, as the wheel turned (Building, 2000 issue1). David Taylor mentioned after this tragedy, ” the London eye has shown the huge potential such grand schemes have for embarrassing anybody connected with them. It has been called ugly, it has hit snags and it has been accused of being an epic waste of money” (construction news, 11/01/1999).
Jonathan Jones, the journalist of the Guardian, once compared London eye and Ferris wheel, built by Louis Sullivan in Chicago in 1980s. He thinks the London eye is the signal of an exciting phase in British Design as it shows London is now dealing with spectacular modern architecture. Also he says, ” This is the part of London that, makes citizen feel like outsiders, dwarfed by huge ministry buildings and equestrian statues”. London eye is described by Marks and Barfield as “an observation wheel” as everything about it amplifies visibility (The Guardian, the Start of some-thing big, 30/08/99).
Rem Koohaas celebrates in his book Delirious New York, saying London Eye has some of the characteristics of the “architectural mutation”. BBC news announced that London eye is in position as one of the UK’s top attractions by taking four million visitors on board as it received 33% votes (25,June, 2003). The main sponsor British Airways’ chairman, Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge said “Each visitor to the wheel is contributing to London’s economy and to the United Kingdom”(www. londoneye. com/community).
The London Eye was originally got temporary permission of five years but it is now one of London’s most popular attractions and has won approval to remain on its site for 25 years (BBC news 25, June, 2003). There were agrees and disagrees on this subject. Architects’ Journal once used the quotes from Cedric Price,” it does not take long for something to become traditional”, to prove that London eye should stay longer (06/12/2001). Paul Finch, the editor of Architects’ journal, said “the wheel be so popular the pressure to make it permanent would be irresistible” (the guardian, the Start of something big, 30/08/1999).
On the other hand, Gile Worsley, the Daily Telegraph’s architecture critic) said it was never meant to be a permanent attraction, he doesn’t think this symbolic wheel for Millennium celebration repackaged as a money-making tourist venture. (The Daily Telegraph, Pull down the London Eye, 09/03/2002) Brian Collins said he disagrees with the idea as it is completely out of scale with its surroundings and comments on its exorbitant cost (Architects’ Journal, 18/07/2002). There was suspicion that Prague’s wheel (coming soon) designed by Building Design Partnership copied the design of London eye.
As the London Eye hasn’t registered design or patent copyright, it is not protected from imitated by other designers. In addition, it is considering Prague’s wheel as the rival to the London Eye (Building, 2000 Issue 39). As an end of my research, I surveyed twenty friends of mine by Email, asking their aspect on London eye. Considering the fact that only four of them actually been on it, almost all of them said London eye is cool and a very good building for Tourism. However, two people did not like it as they think it looks so random and useless, and surprisingly nine people commented it is too expensive for a ride.
I agree with Jonathan Jones, that this architecture itself is very symbolic and definitely modernised London. I always thought of London a historical city and British people love keeping historical environment. However, on the other hand I thought it is behind time, not following high technology. If the London Eye was built in New York, I don’t think it would be so special. Therefore, I respect the London eye is considered as the signal of a phase in British design as it shows London is now dealing with spectacular modern architecture.
However, I disagree with the fact that London Eye got permission of permanent permission for an economic reason, because I believe that this building particularly attracted people, as it was one of the millennium project and only temporary staying. I think this permanent permission will only make the quality of this architecture to decline. Lastly, I think London Eye should get its copyright for its protection. Overall, I have very enjoyed doing this assignment. Through my research, and writing this essay on London Eye, I have learnt the processing a building can be a complicated job and learnt different body of producing a building.