First four Thames bridges illuminated

FOUR OF the Thames’s most famous bridges have been transformed with the launch of the first phase of Illuminated River – the ambitious project for London that will eventually see up to 15 bridges lit.

Four bridges – London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium – are now lit up in unison, with sequenced LED patterns unfolding across each structure.

‘I’m hoping to follow in the footsteps of Monet, Turner and Whistler and reveal the truly unique, inspiring and poetic character of the Thames’, said American artist Leo Villareal, who conceived the art project.

Conceived by American artist Leo Villareal, and British architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the Illuminated River project is supported by the Mayor of London and funded by private donations.

Working with seven different local authorities, Illuminated River is the biggest single planning application ever made without an act of Parliament.

Designed by Atelier Ten, the lighting minimises direct light spill onto the river and reduce energy consumption.

While the former lighting ran all night, from dusk to dawn, Illuminated River’s connected LED lighting from Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) will be switched off at 2am.

Illuminated River has been developed in consultation and collaboration with over 50 organisations on and around the Thames, including the Port of London Authority, Historic England, Transport for London, Network Rail, London Wildlife Trust, the Zoological Society of London, Cross River Partnership, and seven local authorities (City of London, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, Southwark, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Wandsworth) who have granted 30 planning permissions and 18 listed building consents.

Site works for this first phase of the project began in January 2019; two years after the winning team was announced by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and closely following the granting of planning permission.

The foundation is on track to complete phase two by Autumn 2020, which will include Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee Footbridges, Westminster and Lambeth bridges.

Once complete, Illuminated River will span from Albert Bridge in the west to Tower Bridge in the east. It will be the longest public art commission in the world at 2.5 miles in length, along 4.5 nautical miles of the River Thames, and will be viewed over a billion times during its 10-year lifespan.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the press: ‘Our city has a rich heritage of showcasing public art, and I am delighted that Illuminated River is bringing more free and accessible artwork to Londoners.

‘The Thames has played a key role in the growth and development of our capital for centuries, and this unique artwork will help Londoners and visitors see it in a whole new way.

‘The Illuminated River will celebrate the unique architecture and heritage of our bridges, showcase creativity, boost life at night and transform the way we think about the Thames.’

Artist Leo Villareal said: ‘With Illuminated River, the largest artwork I’ve ever conceived, I’m hoping to follow in the footsteps of Monet, Turner and Whistler and reveal the truly unique, inspiring and poetic character of the Thames’.

Four bridges – London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium – are now lit up in unison, with sequenced LED patterns unfolding across each structure.Pic: James Newton

Cannon Street bridge in its  new look. The ambitious Illuminated River project will eventually see up to 15 bridges lit. Pic: James Newton
  • Hear more about the Illuminated River project from the team behind it in three special presentations at the Illuminated City conference, taking place at LuxLive 2019. The exhibition takes place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2018 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.