"World's first vertical cable car" to open on Brighton beach in summer 2016


London Eye designer Marks Barfield Architects has reached the final stage in its construction of the UK's highest observation tower outside the capital (+ slideshow).

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

Billed as the world's first vertical cable, the British Airways i360 is a slender tower featuring a glass viewing pod that will glide up and down to transport passengers to a height of 138 metres.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

It is being built beside the beach in Brighton, and will offer views across the town's rooftops, the English Channel and the coastal Sussex landscape – up to 26 miles in all directions.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

Construction of the glass viewing pod completed last week. This enclosure is 10 times bigger than the capsules of the London Eye and is expected to hold up to 200 people at a time.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

"The pod is completed and it looks stunning," said Julia Barfield, one of the two co-founders of Marks Barfield Architects.

"The fluid form of the glass sits beautifully in its beachfront setting and the mirrored underside will cast reflections of the naturally shifting shapes of the sea and sky."

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

The 18-metre-wide pod, its drive mechanism and its control system are being built by French lift specialist Poma, which was also behind the London Eye's capsules.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

The team is expecting to start "test flights" of the pod in spring, ahead of an opening date in the summer.

"The team from Poma have done a remarkable job, both in terms of the craftsmanship of the handmade pod as well their skillful and swift assembly," added David Marks, who partners with Barfield.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield
Photograph is by Kevin Meredith

The tower has an overall height of 162 metres. It is situated in alignment with the derelict West Pier to the south and Regency Square to the north, and is visible from key points within the town.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield
Photograph is by Kevin Meredith

Plans for i360 was first drawn up in 2005, but the project stalled in 2008 as a result of the global financial crisis. It was revived in 2014 by the local council, majority-funded by a loan from the UK's debt management office.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

Tickets to enter the pod will cost £15 for adults and £7.50 for children. There will also be a restaurant at the tower's base, offering locally sourced food to up to 400 diners at a time.

Marks Barfield Architects completed the London Eye in 2000 to coincide with the Millennium, and it set the precedent for a series of similar projects around the world, including the Singapore Flyer and China's Star of Nanchang.

British Airways i360 by Marks Barfield

Other projects by Marks Barfield include an elevated walkway through the trees of Kew Gardens and a proposed research centre for the Amazon Jungle with a bulging bamboo observation tower and over six miles of treetop bridges.

Renderings are by F10 Studios.

  • richardvahrman

    i360 is known locally as iSore. You can call it a vertical cable car but really it is just a lift. Better views across Brighton and further from the nearby South Downs.

  • minusthetoast

    So, an elevator? What makes this a world first?

  • What is the difference between a vertical cable car and an elevator? This isn’t a joke, I’m actually asking…

  • Stephen

    Not brilliantly elegant but I’d still want to go up it.

  • Guest

    They’ll now be able to see every bit of Rampion when/if it’s built. What a bonus that’ll be, eh?

  • Math Eng

    What world’s first !? Montréal’s Spirale at the amusement park La Ronde, is the same thing. Built for the Expo67, it is still in service with an height of 73 meters.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Virtually every theme park in America has one of these. I guess those Brits just don’t get out much.

    • Asif Farooqui

      I guess so. But we are still more cultured than the average American who thinks his/her country is the centre of the universe. (And no it’s not in case you’re wondering).

      • Concerned Citizen

        For a non-sequitur, that’s both arrogant and ignorant. But, nevertheless, the USA is still a part of the world, a fact the claimant is ignoring. He must be a Brit who thinks the UK is the only universe.

  • c parrott

    Thanks very much for the long, long shadow that will now fall along the beach guys – much appreciated.

    • Stephen

      Err, the beach is to the south of the proposed tower…

  • Chad Sutter

    This is an elevator. It’s not a gondola, or a tram, or a funicular, and certainly not a cable car. Cable cars can be found in San Francisco. They travel on rails and can be stopped independent of the constantly moving cable. http://cdn.funcheap.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/A-cable-car-on-top-of-Hyde-Street-in-San-Francisco-California.jpg

    • Karl Diskin

      This is what I understand to be a cable car. That is a car that travels along a cable…

    • Joe_3

      Let me Google that for you: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=elevator+

      • Chad Sutter

        Either way the Brighton beach one goes up and down on a post. It’s just a big elevator or lift, some of which are supported by cables.

  • Sam Boychuk

    Umm, world first if you ignore an identical tower at Legoland Malaysia/Singapore or the Menara Taming Sari in Melaka. World’s third.

  • This is what they burnt down the pier for?! Jeez.

  • Well why not?

  • guest

    And Weymouth has a smaller, uglier one – just over 100 miles away: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_Skyline

  • Feron

    Besides all the expected moaning, I think it looks pretty damn cool. Thunderbirds are go!

  • Mark Robbins

    It is a world first, it is innovative, but only if you’re an engineer looking at the internal workings of it.

    If you live round the corner from it, it’s a £46-million eyesore. It’s a larger copy of the Waymouth tower (which is failing). It’s ugly, it’s noisy, it’s tacky.

    They are predicting an extra 900 people a day will visit Brighton because of this. But why? You can get a great view of the sea from just above sea level and the Georgian architecture of the town is best viewed from the ground.

    Anyway, I hope I’m wrong, I hope it’s very successful. I’ve got to live with it either way.