Brighton tower lets you see 42km away
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM
THE world's tallest moving observation tower, the i360, opened late yesterday, a futuristic landmark that has transformed the historic seafront in the English tourist resort of Brighton.
The 162m-high steel tower is ringed by a doughnut-shaped glass observation pod that gently glides up and down.
The design is meant to be a 21st-century take on the Victorian pleasure piers that characterise British seaside towns: this time, a vertical pier in the sky, according to project chiefs.
It is hoped that the attraction will further boost tourism in the south-eastern resort of Brighton, a gem of 1700s and 1800s architectural grandeur.
Designed by husband-and-wife team David Marks and Julia Barfield, the tower is the sequel to their London Eye observation wheel.
The latter opened in the British capital in 2000 and is now a top visitor attraction.
"The key ingredient, as with the London Eye, is moving very slowly to a great height for a fantastic view," said Ms Barfield.
The i360 sits at the entrance to the 1866-built West Pier, which burnt down in 2003.
With a height to diameter ratio of 40 to one, it is the world's slenderest tall tower, according to Guinness World Records.
The tower cost £46 million (S$82 million) to build and is expected to draw 700,000 visitors a year. From the top, they can see for 42km along the coast and the English Channel.
The 18m-diameter observation pod is pulled up by a giant cog and steel cable winch system, located underground.
The pod will travel up and down around 200 times a week, starting in September, and cost visitors £15 a ride.