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Idea
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IdeaIn the closing years of the last century, there was a huge demand for monuments and events to commemorate the millennium. Two visionary architects, David Marks and Julia Barfield, came up with an astonishingly simple, yet audacious idea: they wanted to give London a structure which was physically beautiful, technologically innovative, and which would also allow visitors the chance to see one of the world's greatest cities from a new and exciting perspective.

They decided a wheel was an ideal symbol for London in the new millennium. The wheel is a universally recognised symbol of time and regeneration. It's a powerful metaphor of the turning of a century and a millennium and introduces a new shape and sense of order into the chaotic city that is London.

The idea isn't entirely without precedent - Paris' most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, is a celebratory structure (erected to commemorate the 1889 Paris Exhibition) - but what was new is the technology, and the interactive nature of the experience.

Who would have thought that such a simple idea could be so stunningly successful?

A decade after it opened, the EDF Energy London Eye is as iconic a London landmark as Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the Tower of London. It has been used as a backdrop in countless films and for innumerable TV programmes. A source of pride for the whole country as well as the capital, the London Eye is the most distinctive addition this century to the world's greatest city, loved by Britons and tourists alike.

In fact, in its short life, it has become the UK's most popular paid-for visitor attraction, visited by an average of 10,000 people a day. A breathtaking feat of design and engineering, visitors in the London Eye's fully enclosed glass capsules can see up to 40 kilometres in all directions on a clear day.

However, there's far more to the London Eye than its views and its engineering. It plays an integral role in the community, has become an internationally recognised symbol for London, a hugely popular filming location and is also a unique venue for corporate events, launches and entertainment.

Over a decade after it was first conceived, the London Eye has not only become a global icon, but it also has permanent planning permission to make sure future generations can continue enjoying the London Eye and all it has to offer. I have been immensely proud to be associated with the development of this magnificent structure into one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world and an integral part of the burgeoning Southbank community.

David Sharpe, Divisional Director, London Midway Attractions, Merlin Entertainments Group.


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