The London Eye
Photo for CMC © Kevin D. Cordeiro 2009
Tourism has gone global, and it seems that almost every major city in the world – from Berlin to Beijing, Singapore to Melbourne – has its own gigantic ferris wheel as part of its tourist attractions. There are plans for one to be built in Gothenburg, but as Swedish consensus go, the idea is popular with the politicians but not with the majority of the population.
When I read what Sir Richard Rogers (winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize) said about the Eye:
The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible, and it is in a great position at the heart of London.
I was sceptical and had several questions – what type of symbol was it for the British peope? Was it considered an architectural eyesore on the Southern Bank of the River Thames? And was it indeed in a “great position at the heart of London”? Since there isn’t much to view by the Thames, especially at low tide.
The London Eye has been around since 2000 (Singapore opened its Flyer in 2008) and having observed its workings for some time, I think it possesses one of the prettier designs for this type of city attractions. It’s thin, thread-like spokes look impossibly delicate from afar.
And I think I could agree after all, that it does offer people a different perspective of London. The view of the city, from atop the wheel, is quite spectacular!
That many think it a phenomena is also confirmed by the number of visitors The Eye gets in a year. Being one of London’s top tourist attractions, and having won more than 75 awards since it’s opening in 2000.
Above all, it took a team of hundreds of people from 5 different countries, to make this project a reality. So, more than serving its purpose of letting people look down into the city, the structure symbolizes the reality of the global organization of workforces and what can be accomplished in today’s interconnected world.