The London Eye
London is one of the most interesting cities in the world. There are so many things to see when visiting London that you cannot simply take in everything in just a couple of days or so.
If you are visiting London for the first time and you want to get a good idea of what the city really looks like, it’s a great idea to take a trip on the London Eye, an enormous observation wheel which allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
Since it opened to the public on December 31, 1999, the Eye has become one of the most popular places to visit while in London.
Otherwise know as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye stands about 135 meters high. Designed by architects Julia Barfield, David Marks, Mark Sparrowhawk, Malcolm Cook, Steven Chilton, Frank Anatole and Nic Bailey, the London Eye has 32 air-conditioned passenger capsules.
These sealed capsules are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and can hold about 25 people. Each capsule is big enough for its passengers to walk inside.
To give its passengers a chance to take in the scenery of the city, the capsules revolve very slowly at about 10 inches per second. A single wheel revolution takes about 30 minutes.
Since the wheel revolves slowly, it does not stop to take in new passengers (except for disabled passengers). People can just walk on and off the capsules when the capsules reached the ground level. However, for safety reasons the capsules are sealed as soon as it leaves the ground so no one can really leave the capsule once it is airborne.
Is The London Eye Safe?
Safety was the primary consideration of the builders of this structure. The architects and the engineers took extra precautions to keep the people inside the capsules safe.
To secure the structure, the rim of the Eye is supported by strong and stable tie rods that resemble a huge spoke on a bicycle wheel. The wheel is made up of very strong materials.
The steel used in the Eye came from United Kingdom but it was the Dutch who fabricated the steel. The cables used in the London Eye were made in Italy and the bearings were from Germany. All of these construction materials underwent rigid quality control so you can be sure that the materials used in the London Eye are top of the line.
The lighting inside and outside the capsules were redone with LED lighting in December 2006. The LED lightings are digitally controlled so there is no need to manually change the lights every now and then.
If anything goes wrong with the lights, the managers of the London Eye can use the computers to work on the problem. As a whole, the London Eye is a very safe place to be.
Constructing The Eye
Designing and constructing the London Eye was one of the most challenging architectural undertakings in the last millennium.
The sheer size of the Eye made it difficult for the builders to do everything onsite – so the wheel was constructed in sections and then shipped to the site via the River Thames on barges. The job took several months to complete.
Once all the pieces of the wheel were already onsite, the pieces were raised using huge cranes. The pieces of the wheel were lifted at about 2 degrees an hour until the pieces reached 65 degrees.
The combined weight of the pieces of the wheel reached approximately 1,870 tons so you can just imagine the kind of work involved just to get the whole thing into place.
Once the pieces of the wheel were in place, the pieces were left in that position for about a week before the second phase of the construction started.
The one week gap was designed to give the architects and builders some time to correct any defects and to prepare for the second phase of the construction.