Thursday, March 11, 2010

London's greatest attraction turns 10

DESIGN. When cities invest in daring objects of art, design, architecture – or bid for the Olympics, for that matter – there is always an outcry against what is seen as a waste of public money.
When the object is in place, and people start enjoying it, the protesters disappear and the visitors from near and far start to arrive.
I like those kinds of things, like Anish Kapoor’s fantastic steel sculpture “Cloud Gate” in Chicago (readers of this blog might have noticed my affection for this object).
Another of my favourites turns 10 this week.
After a couple of months of technical problems, the London Eye was opened to the public in March 2000.
Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian’s architecture critic, wrote a nice piece about it earlier this week.
London is a city of many attractions. But if somebody asked me to pick one, and only one, thing to do on a short visit, I would recommend the 30-minute ride on this giant ferris wheel by the Thames.
More than 30 million people have enjoyed the great views of the city from the glass capsules that slowly take you up in the sky.
But it’s not only the view take makes the London Eye special. This is a great design object to enjoy from above and below. The smart construction, by architects Marks Barfield, leaves you somewhat bewildered as you try to figure out how it works while pointing out all the London landmarks on the ground below.
Or as Jonathan Glancey puts it:
“The London Eye was always a brave and daring adventure, a throwback to 1951’s Festival of Britain, held on the same site – an era when Britain could still claim to lead the world (just) in supersonic-era design and engineering. It looks to the past as well as the future.”


The greatest view in London, from the city's greatest attraction.