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Excitement mounts as viewing pod completed for UK's first vertical cable car

The glass viewing pod for a vertical cable car billed as “the world’s tallest moving observation attraction” was completed yesterday (13 January) on the UK’s Brighton beach.

The 162m (531ft) tall British Airways i360, conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects – creators of the London Eye – has now entered the final construction phase before opening in late Q2 2016.

The final piece of glass has now been fixed in the 4.7m (15ft) high, 18m (59ft) wide viewing pod, which is 10 times bigger than the capsules on the London Eye. When operational, the pod will carry up to 200 people to a height of 138m (450ft), offering a gradually unfolding view of Brighton & Hove, the English Channel and 26 miles (42km) of coastal landscape.

“This is an extremely important moment for us,” said studio MD Julia Barfield. “The pod is completed and it looks stunning. 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.”

Speaking exclusively to CLAD, fellow managing director David Marks said: “Technology has moved on in the years since the London Eye. That was state-of-the-art at the time, using single-glazed laminated safety glass. On this project there’s been an advance. The glass is double-glazed, much bigger and has many more features to it, such as inbuilt solar shading.

“A lot of architects have said in the past that the age of the glass building is over, but I don't believe that to be the case at all.”

Marks Barfield Architects are working on the project with constructor Hollandia, local engineers Mackley Construction, pod-maker Poma-Sigma and Italian glassmaker Sunglass, which recently collaborated onFrank Gehry’s award-winning ‘glass-cloud’ for the Louis Vuitton Foundation.

Work will now begin on finishing the i360’s interiors, connecting the electrics and testing the attraction. Final cladding is currently being added to the base building – which will house a 400-seat restaurant, a gift shop, a children’s play zone and exhibition space – and two toll booths from 1866 are being reconstructed either side of the tower using the original cast-iron elements.

“The end is in sight,” Marks told CLAD. “It’s been a long time coming, and there could have been many opportunities for the project to die, but there's been such enthusiasm and belief that it was going to happen the result was never in doubt.

“I don't think you can understate how important this will be for Brighton and Hove. This is a catalyst for the city; the first significant project to get off the ground for 10 years or more. I think it’ll herald a new set of initiatives and send the signal that Brighton is open for business.”

Brighton  architecture  design  Marks Barfield  Brighton i360  British Airways  London Eye  glass  cable car 
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The glass viewing pod for a vertical cable car billed as “the world’s tallest moving observation attraction” was completed yesterday (13 January) on the UK’s Brighton beach. The 162m (531ft) tall British Airways i360, conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects – creators of the London Eye – has now entered the final construction phase before opening in late Q2 2016. The final piece of glass has now been fixed
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The final piece of glass has now been fixed in 4.7m high, 18m wide viewing pod, which is ten times bigger than the capsules on the London Eye / Kevin Meredith
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