Winning team revealed for public art project which will illuminate London’s bridges

The Illuminated River competition saw more than 100 international teams apply to design a permanent light installation on the River Thames.

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US artist Leo Villareal and British architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands are among the winning team of a competition to design a light installation on the River Thames in London.

Illuminated River is a permanent lighting scheme which will see London’s 17 bridges lit up, spanning a 10km stretch from Tower Bridge to Albert Bridge.

The winning team has been selected from six shortlisted candidates, after a seven-month international design competition which saw 105 entries from 20 different countries.

Adaptable light sculptures

The winning design envisages London’s bridges as adaptable light sculptures, which will light up more or less brightly in response to the movements of the river and pedestrians.

It will work by using computer coding, which will monitor the ebbs and flows of the river and the amount of people walking over the bridges.

Villareal, who works largely with light-based installations, says the team is looking to design a lighting masterplan “which reduces pollution and wasted energy, is sensitive to history and ecology and subtly rebalances the ambient lighting on the river to provide a beautiful night time experience for residents and visitors”.

“Irresistible and inspirational combination”

Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, Hannah Rothschild, says: “Leo Villareal’s proven ability to paint with light matched with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ direct experience of building bridges over the Thames was an irresistible and inspirational combination.”

Pentagram partner Harry Pearce is also part of the 12-strong winning team, and will design the visual identity for a public art project. The original identity for the competition was designed by Baxter and Bailey.

The winning team will start to develop the design concepts from the beginning of 2017. It has not been confirmed when the project is expected to be completed yet.

The scheme is managed by the Illuminated River Foundation, which is raising the funds for the project using private and philanthropic sources.

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All images (c) MRC and Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

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  • John Frieda December 9, 2016 at 10:36 am

    The inevitable transition of London into ‘Vegas on the Thames’ continues. As with the BFI IMAX, it won’t be long before the art displays become billboards to fund repairs to the bridges.

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