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Sustainable Solution: the Brighton i360

Posted by
on July 08, 2014 at 03:57 PM

David Marks and Julia Barfield, founders of the international architectural practice Marks Barfield Architects, best known for their design of the London Eye, are now designing another observation tower called the Brighton i360. The architects follow a philosophy to provide an architecture that is humane, accessible and a pleasure to experience. The Future Of Design report focuses on the way issues of sustainability are addressed in the concept, construction and operations of this upcoming mega-project! The rather futuristic project proposed in a culturally rich precinct was expectedly mired in controversy, but it seems to have addressed most of the core concerns of sustainable development, as it now gets the go-ahead signal.

© Courtesy of internet sources

At an astounding 575 feet above sea level is UK’s next proposed observation tower – and as views of the building suggest, it promises to be yet another spectacular sight on the skyline! Brighton i360 – as the moving tower is called – has been designed by Marks Barfield Architects (of the London Eye); and will be executed by the same international team who built the London Eye.  Brighton i360 is slated to have a restaurant, retail shop, exhibition space, and conference and event facilities. Two hundred passengers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a pod 59 feet in diameter, will be able to travel vertically into the air from street level to experience phenomenal 360-degree views, particularly of the ocean. 

The international team of designers and engineers, which includes: Hollandia (contractors), Poma, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc (Jacobs), Marks Barfield Architects, JT Mackley (civil contractor), and structural engineers Hemsley Orrell Partnership (HOP), are getting ready to commence construction of this incredible feat of engineering. The 40:1 ratio of height to girth indicates a complex design for a tower that must be safe and secure, while also being innovative in its use of technology, and elegant in design. 

Moreover the i360 is incredibly energy efficient; aiming to set a new global benchmark in sustainable development. Some of the measures taken are: natural ventilation to cool the building, using harvested rainwater in toilets, and minimizing consumption of fresh water by using low-flow wash basins and water-efficient dishwashing equipment.


The Pod itself has thermal insulation, double glazing and mechanical ventilation to minimise energy usage. Low energy lighting will be used throughout the building. Electricity, as the only energy source for operating the i360, will come entirely from renewable energy sources. A wind turbine on the top of the main tower will supplement a mains supply sourced through a renewable energy contract. Options for micro-generation to create green energy at the site are also being explored. The energy usage of the tower is very low for a project of its size: less than 1 kilowatt-hour per visitor. As a whole, the tower would use a similar amount of electricity to a medium sized restaurant. 

Further, in the kitchen, besides use of energy-optimizing (A+ rated) appliances, organic food and drink from local suppliers will be procured and the principle of "eliminate, reduce, reuse, recycle" will be applied. Best-practice policies are applied to the construction work, paying attention to things like noise, atmospheric emissions and drainage. As much of the construction is to be done off-site (the tower is manufactured in Holland and the Pod in France), the noise and disruption will be less than on typical building sites.


Moreover, Brighton has a historicity, and the observation tower is earmarked at a location of the erstwhile West Pier – built in 1866 and one of only two Grade I listed piers in the United Kingdom. Closed since 1975, for some time it was under consideration for restoration, but two fires in 2003, and other setbacks, led to these plans being abandoned. In 2006, the plan for a new landmark – the i360 was announced. With its grand squares, town houses and hotels, Brighton is one of the finest and most recognisable seafronts in Britain. Therefore this plan raised a public outcry of protests, which led to a stalling of the project for 8 years. The project, however, has now got the necessary approvals and construction will commence soon.


All in all, the rather futuristic project proposed in a culturally rich precinct is expectedly mired in controversy, but it seems to have addressed all the core concerns of sustainable development. Besides, the i360 will encourage visitors to take an interest in the natural environment and cultural heritage surrounding it, including: the South Downs, the English Channel and its sea birds, Brighton's history and notable buildings, as well as the West Pier's history and future – as part of its many efforts towards responsible redevelopment.


Designer : Marks Barfield Architects
Photography :Sources & Research

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