Category:I360

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The i360 is a futuristic-looking observation tower on Brighton's seafront, which opened in Summer 2016. The i360 is designed as a tourist attraction and is built at the "landfall site" for Brighton's old West Pier.

Concept

The i360 was designed by Marks Barfield, the architects who created the famous London Eye observation wheel on London's South Bank. The design consists of a vertical steel welded tube, with a doughnut-shaped observation platform that climbs up and down the central shaft. The idea for the tower has been described as a "vertical pier", referencing the site's original association with the West Pier.

Mirrored viewing pod underside

Construction

Construction of the i360 was initially beset by delays due to finances, as the banking crisis caused backers to withdraw from new projects. While there was originally talk of trying to have the tower built in time for the London Olympics, the construction date slipped to the end of 2013, and then 2014. Once funding was finalised, work on the site started pretty much immediately, the site's infrastructure was put in during 2014/15, and the tower "pole" went up very quickly, as planned. The pod was assembled and tested through early 2016, and the tower went into service in 2016.

Timeline

  • 4th August 2016 – official opening
  • Summer 2016 – i360 completed! Pretty much – spire still not attached.
  • January 2016 – pod components start to arrive, and are assembled around the base of the stalk.
  • December 2015 – construction of the stalk completes.
2015: Passers-by read details on the construction site hoarding
2015: Sections delivered by barge, being moved on-site by crane
  • 2015 – Temporary cranes installed, with an intersecting walkway crossing the site. Steel sections start to arrive on the beach by barge, are unloaded and stacked, then one by one lifted over the walkway and fitted to the i360 "stalk.
  • 2015 – construction of period-style brickwork arches under the seafront for new businesses.
  • March 2014 – site-clearing and construction commences.
  • March 2014 – funding is secured.
  • February 2014 – the i360 project still appears to be officially ongoing, but still seems to be stalled over funding issues.

Controversy

The subject of the i360 has fiercely divided Brightonians.

  • Detractors say that the i360 looks too modern, doesn't fit in with the surroundings, is a waste of money, and doesn't have a proper business plan to make back its investment. They generally prefer the idea that Brighton should instead build a replica of the old West Pier.
  • Proponents say that the i360 is sufficiently different to its surrounding to complement them, that it's width is so narrow that it doesn't block views of any existing buildings, and that it's better to have a radically different building in the area than something that's poorly designed. They also say that demolishing and rebuilding the old West Pier as-was is totally uneconomic (especially given that entry to the neighbouring Palace Pier is free), and that nobody has suggested a business plan or any potential backers for a West Pier replica – it isn't an option. They also say that the area has been becoming derelict with no visitor attraction on the site, that the i360 will bring people back into the area, and that the redeveloped site will have new shops and other tourist resources, and that the increased visitor numbers from the i360 are essential first step for any business plan for any hypothetical (modern) replacement pier.

Proponents also say that no public money is being spent, so it's not an issue of taxpayer money being wasted if the project fails. Detractors point out that the plan is based on a development agency loan given to the council, which then used this to fund its investment, and if the project was built and then went bust, the Council would probably be expected to step in and spend public money to save the project. Proponents say that the business plan looks good, that here are economic benefits to the city and the council that go beyond a simplistic commercial funding model, and that even if it "went bad", the council would be able to get its money out first.

The Brighton Wheel

The Brighton Wheel was be dismantled in early Summer 2016, before the i360 launch, it's temporary licence having expired. The Wheel was also controversial when it was first put up, with some Brightonians complaining about the architectural clash between it and its surroundings, and how it would bring the "wrong sort" of people into Brighton. Although the Brighton Wheel's design was somewhat generic, the Wheel became an instant landmark and addition to the Brighton skyline, and now that it's gone, people are already missing it. It's possible that people's attitudes to the i360 may undergo a similar metamorphosis once the i360 has opened, tourist traffic has increased, and the locals have become used to it.

Marks Barfield: the architect as modelmaker

David Marks and Julia Barfield are the husband-and-wife team that produced the iconic, radical and much-copied "London Eye". The couple met when both were at the Architectural Association School of Architecture ("AA") in London, and with the architectural profession going through one of its characteristic cyclical slumps, with a shortage of projects to design for, the pair stayed in the industry by working for Richard Rogers, initially involved in architectural modelmaking.

When the Millenial competition to design a new London landmark was announced they came up with the basic design for the London Eye, and having produced a design that they loved, once the competition announced no winners, they decided to push ahead anyway and try to get the thing built themselves.

Links

Marks Barfield

i360West PierPalace PierChain PierVolks RailwayDaddy Long-LegsBrighton Marina