The Emirates Air Line, also known by some as the Thames Cable Car, spans 1km across the River Thames from the Greenwich Peninsular to the Royal Docks, offering spectacular views of London’s skyline. The UK’s first urban cable car, the cable car can carry up to 2,500 people per hour, including cyclists and wheelchair users, in each direction, and reaches heights of up to 60m – higher than the nearby O2 Arena.
The main focus of Buro Happold’s work was to construct the three 90m towers that meet the cables at their highest point in the centre of the route. Particular challenges included the complex geometry of the sculptural steel cantilever towers, as well as their off-shore location. Ensuring that the cable car travels within a very narrow slither of air space was vital; too high and it will clash with the flight path of the London City Airport; too low and it could interrupt the passage of large vessels in the river.
Competed within schedule, the Emirates Air Line opened on 28th June 2012 in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It is hoped that the cable car will add to the continuing regeneration of east London.