Emirates Air Line

London, UK

The Emirates Air Line cable car is one of the most exciting additions to London's infrastructure in recent years. It is the first urban cable car system in the UK and its path across the River Thames links the two major landmark venues of the O2 Arena and Excel Exhibition and Conference Centre. Both venues, which sit either side of the river, have been major catalysts to the regeneration and transformation of their local areas.

This new physical link provides a direct connection as well as a dramatic and memorable experience for residents and visitors, and supports the Mayor's vision to transform this area into a bustling metropolitan quarter with new businesses, homes and job opportunities.

The scheme comprises a number of distinct elements, the design of which gave WilkinsonEyre the opportunity to create a highly recognisable piece of infrastructure. The Air Line's sculpted towers rise high above the Thames, formed from a series of steel ribbons and arranged as a tapering spiral. The ribbons are held in place by a helical tie that corkscrews up the inside of the structure. The effect is of lightness and movement, with the loose curves of the central helix providing the necessary stiffness with the least amount of steel.

The stations at either end act as gateways, denoting the beginning and end of a memorable journey. The design was completed and submitted for planning approval within an extremely tight timescale, and planning permission was granted by all three relevant London boroughs in February 2011. The project was completed in June 2012.