20998 dated 01.02.2018
Published by
Alberto Fabbri
2000, THE LONDON EYE. 135 M.

Back in the early 1900’s the fortune of big wheels take a turn for the worse.
Although Ferris Wheel made a fortune for its investors, just after few years from Earl’s Court London Gigantic Wheel, many other wheel started to be built in many parts of the globe, including Paris, New York and many other big towns, so its novelty started to fade and people stopped coming.

Between 20 years nearly all big wheels, including that of Earl’s Court are dismantled and sold as scrap. This looks like the death of sky wheels.

It would need over a century to see a new gigantic wheel to take shape, until the construction of the London Eye.

In the turn of new millennium, the city needs a monument to fit as landmark for the next one thousand years.

Architect David Marks draws an iconic structure that fires public imagination: to build the highest sky wheel of the world, now called “observation Wheel” since it would give the people a completely new point of view of the city. So people can appreciate the view of the city in the same way the people do in Paris with the Eiffel tower or in New York with the Empire state Building.

This take the form of a new observation wheel, that would become known with its iconic name as “The London Eye”. After one hundred years this will become the rebirth of skywheels.

Engineers build the wheel flat on temporary islands, in the middle of the river Thames, the team then uses a huge crane to lift the frame upright.

This erection itself became phenomenal for people in London, seeing this huge wheel rising up like a Giant. The world’s largest object lifted for the horizontal to the vertical position.

Here engineers had to find the solution to give the passenger a perfect panorama, so to find a new shape for gondolas. They have so to design a new type of cabins, which must give an unrivaled view.

Traditional cabins are hanged on pivots attached to the rim; they swing freely during the wheel turns. But at the top of the wheel, when the scenery is at the best, the struts of the rim blocks the view. So the designers of London Eye decided to put the gondolas on the outside of the rim, for the first time in the world.

The gondola is mounted on two large rings that allow it to rotate while the wheel is moving.
Instead of putting a heavy counterweight that would keep the gondola leveled while turning, which would make the gondolas too heavy, designers decided to put an electric motor below the capsule that keep it leveled; the speed of the motor is synchronized with the speed of the wheel, so the floor remains leveled all the way around.

London Eye was supposed to be pulled down after 5 years, but it became so popular among tourists and local people that after 17 years this big wheel just keeps on turning.


Singapore Flyers has outside capsules just like the London Eye. But here they face the heavy problem of high temperature and humidity, that was not there in London.
28 people closed in a cabin, with such heavy environmental conditions, would turn the cabin into a greenhouse and temperatures inside the cabin dangerously hot. So 4 powerful air conditioning units were so installed in every cabin. The condensed water is the jettisoned after every revolution into the water tank below the wheel.

Another incredible problem was to keep the glasses of the cabins clean from condensation; this was achieved by a strict control of the temperature inside of each capsule. Environmental conditions made the design of these capsules something really difficult.