Article for OSC – faster fasteners for the trade.

If it seems like a long time ago that the wheels on the i360 tentatively began to turn, that’s because it was. It’s been nine long years since the plans were first submitted by the Marks Barfield architecture firm to Brighton council, and now as we close ever more swiftly in on the projected 2016 completion date, you could be forgiven for wondering just how much progress has actually been made. Well, we have some good news on that front – the i360 certainly seems to be coming along very nicely.

Just last week, at a factory just a stone’s throw from Lyon, the project’s architects were there to see for themselves the fruits of months of intensive labour in the form of the observation tower’s (entirely handmade) glass passenger pod. David Marks, the firm’s chairman, was full of nothing but praise for the impressive structure, remarking that its construction is so delicate and refined that onlookers would have a tough time realising that it hadn’t been formed by complicated machinery.

The supreme quality should come as little surprise, given the track record of those tasked with its creation; Poma were also heavily involved in the construction of the London Eye and were responsible for the successful production of all 32 of its passenger pods. It definitely looks as though this not-inconsiderable pedigree has carried over into their current project, with the i360’s pod seemingly inspiring awe in all those who cast eyes upon it.

Once completed, the mighty glass vessel will boast a capacity 10 times that of the pods of the London Eye. Able to hold an impressive 200 people at any one time, the spacious interior (measuring in at a hefty 18 metres across) guarantees ample room for moving around and taking in the full spectrum of breathtaking views of Brighton. On the inside, passengers can expect comfortable bench seating and a trendy sky bar, with full wheelchair accessibility also guaranteed.

It isn’t just the aesthetics and the roominess where the i360’s pod has the London Eye beaten, however. Developments in glass technology have enabled Poma to hit a much higher-spec construction level. This means that regardless of the weather, the passengers won’t find their views impeded by steamed-up windows, with the added bonus of the pod as a whole requiring significantly less air conditioning to maintain a pleasant internal temperature.

Indeed, if the news of current progress is anything to go by, this is certainly an exciting time in the development of what is sure to become an enduring part of the Brighton coastline for years to come. Once the tower’s concrete frame – currently under construction by Mackley – has been completed, assembly of the final structure can begin in earnest, with Poma’s observation pod set to be transported over from France in pieces (48 of them to be precise, across an estimated 30 lorry loads). It’s certainly all very exciting, and we can’t wait until it’s ready.

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