London bridges project bats away judging panel criticism

The Albert Bridge in Chelsea is one of the many London bridges that will be getting a new lighting design thanks to the Illuminated River Project.

The Illuminated River competition, which will see 17 London bridges receive new lighting designs, has defended itself against accusations that the judging panel lacks lighting design knowledge.

An article by Emma Cogswell in the September edition of Lighting Journal noted that the panel, although full of architects and urban planning experts, did not feature any lighting designers or representatives from a professional lighting association.

In response to the criticism the organisers of the contest have made clear that a supporting panel has now been set up to assist the jury with their deliberations. The supporting panel will feature Mark Major, principal at Speirs + Major, who will represent lighting designers.

Sue Davies, project manager at The Illuminated River Foundation told Lux that the panel has been set up, ‘in recognition of the importance of both the lighting design and other key technical and design aspects of the Illuminated River competition.’

The supporting panel will meet in advance of the jury in order to discuss and provide a technical review of all of the shortlisted design submissions and the panel will allow a wide range of expert stakeholders to input to the project.

‘The supporting panel plays a key role in the competition process by enabling a very deep analysis process to be undertaken around each of the shortlisted submissions.

‘The supporting panel plays a key role in the competition process by enabling a very deep analysis process to be undertaken around each of the shortlisted submissions.'

Sue Davies, project manager at The Illuminated River Foundation

The supporting panel traditionally forms a very important part of major design competitions by providing detailed technical advice on aspects of the submissions,’ Davies concluded.

The main jury will include a number of keynote names, including the architect Malcolm Reading, Professor Ricky Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics, Lucy Musgrave, the founder of urban design and public realm consultancy Publica, the director of the Hayward Gallery, Ralph Rugoff and deputy mayor of London for culture and the creative industries Justine Simons.

Given that well over a hundred design teams submitted entries, it is, in some ways, understandable that lighting designers could not feature heavily on the main jury, given many of them could have submitted designs themselves and could have been forced into judging the efforts of friends and colleagues.

The Illuminated River organisers are no doubt hoping that what they sacrificed in lighting knowledge, they can make up for with a rigorously impartial jury, something that will certainly please participants.

The full shortlist of those nominated includes:

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