BRITISH AIRWAYS I360, BRIGHTON, UK
DO-ARCHITECTURE AND MARKS BARFIELD
With an overall height of 162m, and an observation
pod that rises above Brighton beach in southern
England, the British Airways i360 is the world’s
tallest moving observation tower. It allows up to 200
visitors at a time to glide from ground level to 138m
high over the English Channel in a fully enclosed,
futuristic glass viewing pod.
The interior is lit with an RGBW light source forming
a continuous ring of light more than 30m in length.
The made-to-measure Quad Curved linear system
supplied by architectural lighting manufacturer
Optelma allows the lighting to change during the
20-minute ‘flight’. Embarkation and disembarkation
see the pod illuminated in white for safety reasons,
while at night, as the pod travels, the colour fades to
blue. The change to blue lighting creates a spectacle
from the ground while also allowing passengers to
take in the view of the night sky.
A red halo around the base of the pod appears to
propel it gently upwards within white slots of light.
While the pod is at the top of the tower, lighting
‘breathes’, gently brightening and fading at the average
rate of a person respiring at rest.
The tower was designed by Marks Barfield Architects,
creators of the London Eye, and built by French
lift-maker Poma. The viewing pod is 10 times the
size of a London Eye capsule.
Glasgow-based Do-Architecture was commissioned
10 years before i360’s opening in 2016, through an
open international competition to create feature
illumination that would extend the gentle movement
of the pod on the spire into the hours of darkness.
David Marks and Julia Barfield describe it as a
modern day ‘vertical pier’.
The coloured lighting is integral to the tower’s
branding. The illumination of the pod and tower
together emulates British Airways livery colours of
red, white and blue. However, the tower lights can
also be programmed to display colours and patterns
of light to match important events or occasions. The
first such use coincided with Brighton Pride, when the
tower was lit in slowly revolving rainbow colours.