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The Structural Engineer

The five papers presented in this issue of The Structural Engineer catalogue an experience like no other for the team who were privileged to work together on the Eye. None of us will ever forget the chance to exercise every scrap of engineering experience we had ever accumulated, or the frantic project pace. There were endless journeys, floods of ideas, and designs solved on trains, in airport lounges and on flights. There were days and nights of working but all characterised by a team spirit and desire to win that never faltered. It was a particular privilege for those of us from the UK to work with European colleagues and observe their approach and professionalism. And for all of us, it was wonderful to see the pride of the shop floor and site workers and their obvious interest in being part of such a great enterprise. In his television appearance, the Chief Executive of British Airways, Bob Ayling, commented that the project was a model of just what can be achieved with the right atmosphere. Allan Mann

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The Structural Engineer

By common consent the views from the now completed London Eye are as breathtaking as the architects intended when they were first inspired to create the project. Their idea germinated in a competition to celebrate the Millennium, and their proposal was to create a 'fun' structure that people could enjoy and not just a monument to be gazed at. The realisation was to be quite simply the biggest observation wheel in the world. Its potential could be gauged by noting that there really was no place in central London for the public to look down on what is one of the most interesting cities on earth. The now familiar London Eye is shown in Fig 1. N. Thompson and J.M. Roberts

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Author – Thompson, N;Roberts, J M

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The Structural Engineer

All the main features of the Wheel can be seen in Fig 1, these being the capsules, rim, columns, and general support system making heavy use of cables. Significantly, the capsules are on the outside of the rim, and entrance to them is achieved by crossing a boarding platform positioned on the riverside of the Queen’s Walk parapet. The rim is supported via cable spokes onto a large spindle cantilevering out over the head of the A-frame, and this frame is inclined and stabilised back to foundation level by a set of four cables. There are two restraint towers guiding the rim and maintaining its alignment at passenger boarding level; guidance is achieved via banks of vertical rollers positioned on each side of each tower. Both towers also support mechanical equipment used for Wheel operation; the southern tower supports the electrical supply, and the northern tower supports the drive system. Additionally, each tower supports hydraulically powered pins and adjustable lateral restraint guides for locking the rim off in advance of high winds (there are pins and guides on each side of the rim). Professor J. Berenbak, A. Lanser and A.P. Mann

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Author – Berenbak, J;Lanser, A;Mann, A P

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The Structural Engineer

The passenger-carrying capsules are a key part of the Eye’s image. They are designed to give passengers the maximum view possible, plus the freedom to walk around to select and enjoy that view. The capsules must provide a comfortable and pleasant environment and they must safely contain the passengers during their 30 min night’. To maximise the view, much of the capsule exterior is glass and the capsules are mounted on the outside of the rim. Both these features (the glass and the mounting method) have a significant interaction with structural aspects of capsule design. That outer part of the shell not glazed is made from glassfibre. P. Desflammes and A.P. Mann

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The Structural Engineer

While the London Eye steel structure dominates the skyline, its foundations are buried below ground, giving visitors no impression of the engineering challenges faced during construction. This paper gives a description of the foundation design and addresses some of the key site issues encountered. G. Nicholson

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The Structural Engineer

Access to the Wheel is catered for by public transport systems such as the tube, but, in line with the overall plan for London, river access is also provided via the new Waterloo Pier. This takes the form of a 1OOm-long floating pontoon connected to Queen's Walk by two bridges, each consisting of a short, fixed length linked into an articulated brow. The brows act as twin radial arm struts restraining the pontoon laterally while cables supported on floating booms provide longitudinal restraint. Visual design of the pontoon and bridges was developed to match the architectural style of the Eye. T. Beckett

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Author – Beckett, T

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The Structural Engineer

The Millennium Bridge Verulam quoted some of Francis Walley's reminiscences of some earlier bridge tests (3 October 2OOO) but clearly did not get things quite right. Dr Walley, writing from Coulsdon, Surrey, has sent the more accurate version: In view of the interest of in-step and out-of-step may I go back over 40 years when the suspension bridge in St James' Park was replaced. With the slenderness achieved in the present one it was clear that frequency was to be the dominant criterion; it was also considered undesirable that a pedestrian at rest should be perturbed by the passage of other pedestrians, and the design of the structure took both these factors into account.

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