Brighton's i360: World's thinnest tower to open

image copyrightRob Stothard
image captionThe i360 Tower has been made by the same people behind the popular London Eye attraction

The world's thinnest tall building opens on Thursday offering views of up to 26 miles of Sussex coastline.

The 531ft (161m) British Airways i360 viewing tower stands on the site once occupied by the entrance to Brighton's ruined West Pier.

Visitors ascend 450ft (137m) in a 360-degree curved-glass pod.

But it has divided local opinion, with some declaring it "a total monster" others praising it as "world-class, stunning architecture".

media captionHow does i360 compare with other buildings around the world?
image copyrightGLYN KIRK
image captionThe 360-degree pod comprises 24 segments of handmade Italian glass

Valerie Paynter, of the saveHove campaign, said it was "like something springing horribly out of the earth in a horror movie".

But Glynn Jones, chairman of the West Pier Trust, thought the "vertical pier in the sky" showed "the city is, once again, embracing and celebrating world-class, stunning architecture".

The tower affords visitors views from Bexhill in East Sussex to Chichester in West Sussex with the South Downs to the north.

image copyrightBritish Airways i360
image captionView of Brighton from the i360 to the east
image copyrightGLYN KIRK
image captionThe (rather murkier) view to the north

Chief Executive of i360, Eleanor Harris, claimed the tower would transform Brighton's tourism prospects.

She said: "We have built the world's first vertical cable car, the world's tallest moving observation tower, the world's most slender tower.

"We are putting Brighton on the map and promoting the city around the globe."

i360 in numbers

image copyrightBritish Airways i360
image captionThe observation tower stands where the 1866 West Pier used to join the seafront promenade before it burnt down in 2003
  • Trips last 20 min and cost £13.50 for adults and £6.75 for children
  • The tower consists of 17 steel "cans" or tubes made in Rotterdam
  • It contains 1,336 bolts weighing 30 tonnes
  • The viewing pod is 59ft (18m) wide - 10 times bigger than a London eye capsule

Architect David Marks said: "This is the culmination of a 12-year journey that started on a kitchen table and ends 138 metres above Brighton and Hove beach.

"We feel incredibly happy and proud on behalf of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that worked to bring the project to reality."

image copyrightBritish Airways i360
image captionShingle on Brighton beach was moved for the tower's foundations with concrete bearing piles drilled up to 65ft (20m) deep

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