Location: South Bank
Client: The London Eye Company
Status: Completed March 2000
Principal steelwork contractor: Hollandia
Capsule contractor: Poma
Construction manager: Mace
The London Eye has captured the public’s imagination. Since opening, over fifty million visitors have enjoyed unparalleled views over the capital, and it has also made a significant contribution to the regeneration of the South Bank area. David Marks and Julia Barfield not only conceived and designed the wheel, they also took the entrepreneurial approach in establishing the London Eye Company which made it a reality.
"There is an innate desire in all men to view the earth and its cities and plains from exceeding high places.... for it is an excuisite treat to all minds to find that they have the power, by their mere vision, of extending their conciousness to scenes and objects that are miles away"
Henry Mayhew, 1862
"If the great spate of new buildings in London has any theme it is that the city is moving from imperial grandeur and industry to a lighter, more fluid future, a city which lives on its communications, tourism and its culture and wits. The wheel is entirely open and democratic, lighter and airier than any other structure in the land".
Andrew Marr, The Observer, October 1999
The London Eye has become a symbol of modern Britain and was a centre piece of the capital's New Year celebrations. A breathtaking feat of design and engineering, passengers in the London Eye's capsules can see up to 25 miles in all directions.
"In pursuing their dream Marks and Barfield have given London something remarkable – huge in scale but light in feeling. Technology has been pursued to an extreme and produced an aesthetic refinement to which the public have responded with extraordinary enthusiasm."
Sir Jeremy Dixon, Architecture Today, May 2000
"…the double act …
David Marks and Julia Barfield. Together they have altered the townscape of London in spectacular fashion by masterminding the design and construction of the British Airways London Eye. The great wheel.
Not only were they the architects and designers of this fantastic combination of strength, innovative engineering, visual style and playfulness but they also had the sheer tenacity to see the project through over a period of seven years. That meant raising the money to finance the enterprise as well as putting together an international team of specialists to make it a reality and construct it in just 14 months.
The London Eye has put architecture, design and engineering centre stage by catching the imagination of the British public and of visitors to London, and by becoming one of the city's most popular landmarks. The Eye attracted more than two million paying visitors in its first six months."
Sir Christopher Frayling, 2001
25 awards for design, innovation, engineering & tourism, including:
2003 - Queen's Award for Enterprise Innovation
2001 - ISE Structural Award
2000 - Prince Phillip Designers Prize, Special Commendation
2000 - RIBA Award, shortlisted for the Stirling Prize
2003, 2004, 2005 - CoolBrands
2001 - D&AD Award, Gold and Silver
Sustainable and environmental features:
- Materials Chosen for Durability and Long Life
- Off-site Construction
- Reduce Construction Wastage
- Reduce Time on Site
- Robust Detailing
- Shading / Overhangs