At 135m, The London Eye is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel. It was conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects and was launched in 2000. It has won over 85 awards for national and international tourism, outstanding architectural quality and engineering achievement. In fact, it has become the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction. In 2020, The London Eye celebrated it’s 20th birthday.
The London Eye began as an entry to The Millennial Competition in 1993 organised by the Architecture Foundation with the Sunday Times. David Marks and Julia Barfield, the renowned husband-and-wife architecture team, submitted their idea for a giant cantilevered observation wheel as a new London landmark to celebrate the millennium. Hundreds of people across five different countries worked to get the Eye ready for the millennium.
The pods were numbered from one to 33, skipping 13 with superstitious passengers in mind. Each pod weighs ten tonnes, as much as one million pound coins. On 13 October 1999, the 135-metre-tall wheel was erected – officially the world’s largest observation wheel. New Years’ Eve saw the London Eye made its first full rotation. 9 March 2000 the London Eye officially opened to the public.Today, the London Eye welcomes over 3.5 million passengers on average each year – enough to fill 41 Wembley Stadiums.
By 2005, the London Eye had officially reached the end of its five-year plan. It was due to be dismantled and moved from its iconic London residence, but the public just kept coming. The Eye’s architects, Marks and Barfield, extended its lease in London, securing an incredible 25-year rental agreement with the Southbank Centre.
Since it was first built, the London Eye has welcomed over 76 million visitors and witnessed over 5,000 marriage proposals. It hosts London’s legendary New Years’ Eve firework display each year. With its unrivalled views of Tower Bridge, Big Ben and St. Paul’s, the London Eye has added a modern sparkle to the breath-taking London skyline.