In Review

Brighton's i360 tower: Futuristic 'vertical pier' or modernist beanpole?

Monument's sparse, unavoidable presence in the city has prompted criticism as well as praise

Brighton's British Airways i360 tower, which opens this week, stands at more than 500ft and has divided locals and critics with its uncompromising design.

Located on the seafront by the remains of the old West Pier, the i360 is a giant glass-and-steel doughnut that moves up and down a thin 531ft pole. On a clear day, the view from the pod stretches 40 miles to the Isle of Wight.

But the tower's sparse, unavoidable presence has prompted criticism as well as praise. From the outset there were plenty of objectors to the project, says Richard Morrison in The Times: "After all, this modernist beanpole was to be plonked right in front of the aptly named Regency Square."

Those objections have not gone away. The saveHove campaign's Valerie Paynter told the Daily Express the tower was a "total monster, like something springing horribly out of the earth in a horror movie".

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2016 Getty Images

Others have dismissed the monument as a doughnut on a stick or "a middle finger gesturing towards the West Pier's rusted carcass", writes former Brighton resident Kashmira Gander in The Independent. An old school friend, who has also left the city, reportedly told her: "When I think of Brighton, I see colour and vibrancy, not a grey pole."

"There is a consciously hi-tech feel to the whole affair which doesn't sit so comfortably with the seaside setting," says Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian's architecture critic. That opposition is most jarring at ground level, he adds, "where the big metal shaft emerges from a rather clumsy glass and steel box on the beach".

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:A member of British Airways staff looks out of the i360 passenger pod during a press preview on August 2, 2016 in Brighton, England.The British Airways i360, des

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2016 Getty Images

But the pod's shiny, reflective base makes it fun to watch as it glides up and down, says Teresa Machan of the Daily Telegraph. "Compensation, perhaps, for its total domination of the seascape. A gloomy grey, the industrial aluminium-clad pole is not an easy thing to love."

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