The jury is not out on the Millennium Wheel as an object: it came rollicking in months ago with the unanimous verdict that it is a Good Thing. The Wheel as an experience is equally intriguing.
In the inimitable tradition of central London, it is approached down an unmade path that meanders up and down and round and round, after the fashion of a motor cycle scramble. Already thousands of people are milling about: you know this is instant success as several wide boys have already set up stall, and are doing non-stop trade in rip-off tourist gifts. But again, the Wheel demonstrates its unfailing panache. It manages to maintain its integrity as an object, and is distinctly, discreetly, separate from everything around it. Coming to it is to arrive at any gigantic off-shore phenomenon, say a beached whale. The Wheel cannot be read in any way as an earth-bound 'building'.
Like its sharp-at-both-ends predecessor, the Festival of Britain tower, Skylon, it hovers without landing.
The sense that this is some kind of huge ocean-going object is confirmed as you get on. From afar the Wheel appears not to be moving; up close it is fast, and there is a gap of about a foot and a half you have to leap over - and quite sharply, too. Two sailor-like blokes are nearby to man-handle you on. They are a quaint and enchanting contrast with the capsule's smooth action sliding doors, and the sparse elegance of its interior. In the centre is a single object, an oval slatted timber table at the height of a bench. You promenade all the way round the capsule's edge. There is no best seat, and there is no fixed point of view.
The exhilaration of the experience is matched only by the happy thought that at least some of the profit will go straight into the hands of its architects. At last, hurray for us!