copy, content and the ramblings of an itinerant traveler
This is the summer Great Britain stakes its place on top of the world. Buoyed by the 2012 Olympic Games, homegrown architects and designers – already recognized for thinking big â€“ have taken the sky as their limit with vertigo-inducingÂ Â success. In celebration of all things great and not-so-small, hereâ€™s a look at a handful of the countryâ€™s newest gold medal views.
Emirates Air Line, London (164+ feet tall), Opened June 28.Â London Mayor Boris Johnson fulfilled his pledge to build the UKâ€™s first urban cable car with the opening of Emirates Air LineÂ – get it?. The three-quarter mile long river crossing, stretches between Greenwich and the Royal Docks in East London andÂ has the capacity to carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction – the equivalent of almost 30 buses. For a “360 degree tour,” there’s an option to make it a non-stop journey.
The Shard, London, (1,016 feet tall), Opening February 2013.Â The View from the ShardÂ is already one of the capitalâ€™s most sought after visitor attractions â€“ and it doesnâ€™t even open until next year! Expect high-speed lifts to transport the public to a dizzying viewing platform, where views promise to extend for an amazing 40 miles across the city. At 1,016 feet high, it’s not only one of the most ambitious architectural endeavors in the UK, but also the tallest building in Europe. Luxury hotel group Shangri-La will launch a new hotel inside The Shard, also in 2013. Personally, I can’t wait to hear about the spa.
ArcelorMittal Orbit, Olympic Park, London (377 feet tall), Opened July 28.Â The ArcelorMittal Orbit rises over the Olympic park giving a funky new perspective to London from its freshly redeveloped home in the East End. The UK’s tallest sculpture to date, the swirling structure took 18 months to construct and required 1837 feet of tubular red steel to form the lattice superstructure. The result is a bold statement of public art that is both permanent and sustainable. Designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond and sitting between the Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, the ArcelorMittal Orbit has become quite literally a beacon of the Olympic Park during the Games, with 250 coloured spot lights individually controlled to produce a digital combination of static and animated effects – including a 15-minute moving light show each evening after the Games.
Up at the O2, London (174 feet tall), Opened June 21. This summer, Londoners are being given the opportunity to climb an icon with this ambitious new attraction combining an exhilarating active outdoor challenge with a completely different perspective on the capital. The 90-minute experience takes visitors on an uplifting guided expedition across the roof of The O2 via a tensile fabric walkway suspended 174 feet above ground level. An observation platform at the summit will enable climbers to take in outstanding 360 degree views of the city and its many landmarks, including the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, The Shard, Historic Royal Greenwich and Canary Wharf, before descending back to base.
Weymouth SEA LIFE Tower, Dorset (174 feet tall), Opened June 22.Â Situated along one of Englandâ€™s most scenic stretches of coastland, Weymouth Bay is also home to some of the countryâ€™s best sailing waters and will host the Olympic and Paralympic sailing competitions this summer. Soaring high above Englandâ€™s first natural World Heritage SiteÂ theÂ Weymouth SEA LIFE TowerÂ rotates a full 360 degrees for spectacular view of the Jurassic coastline,Â Chesil Beach and the island of Portland.
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Perched on the Peak at almost 1,000 feet above sea level, the Peak Tower is one of Hong Kong’sÂ most recognizable architectural icons, featured on millions of postcards and key chains. While not exactly on par with the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building, it nevertheless makes an enduring statement – and stylish emblem -Â of the British Empire’s belief in man’s dominance over nature. More than just a scenic viewing platform, the Peak Tower is the upper terminus of the Peak Tram, the first funicular in Asia and a late 19th century triumph of engineering. (Prior to the building of the tram most people were carried up and down via sedan chair.) And although the Peak isn’tÂ technically even atop Victoria Peak but rather situated alongside it in Victoria Gap, that fact does nothing to diminish its building. Moreover, in a city that prides itself on developing ever taller and more spectacular vantage points, nothing quite compares to the Peak’s utterly old school outdoor panorama.