The Illuminated River will Transform London's Thames with Light

Artist Leo Villareal and the London-based architecture firm Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands are working together to design and install the first phase of The Illuminated River Foundation's public art commission that will illuminate architectural elements of the existing bridges, redefining the riverscape.

This installation marks the initial stage of the project that was announced nearly two years ago. All stages are intended to be completed by 2022. In its entirety, it will include 15 central London bridges - creating a unified artwork connected across the flowing river from Albert Bridge in West London to Tower Bridge in the center of the city.

A tremendous amount of work has been done since the winning team of Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands was announced almost two years ago. Much of that work has been undertaken in collaboration with organisations up and down the river, including one of the largest and most detailed planning processes London has seen. We are grateful for the contribution of all our partners and look forward to continuing our work together. We are also extremely pleased to have the support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, whose generous donation has been invaluable in helping us turn the Illuminated River from a vision into reality. We look forward to announcing more details about the illumination of the four bridges in due course.
- Neil Mendoza, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Illuminated River Foundation

Courtesy of Leo Villareal Studio

The American artist, Leo Villareal, gained an international reputation for his light installations, particularly his illumination of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 2013. His installations use custom codes that control the intensity and frequency of the lights, creating a dynamic, moving pattern. Villareal’s submission was selected by the Illuminated River International Design competition.

Courtesy of Leo Villareal Studio

We want to listen to Londoners in developing the scheme to deliver at all levels of art and light, urban design and architecture, the environment and sustainability. Our aim is for a lighting master plan 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 nighttime experience for residents and visitors. 
-Leo Villareal, Artist.

Courtesy of Leo Villareal Studio

The winning design will celebrate the historic links throughout London’s river by unifying each bridge as one lighting sculpture. The concept was developed with the input of over 50 additional local organizations. To make the installation a reality, seven local authorities were also required to grant permissions or consent.

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Cite: Lindsay Duddy. "The Illuminated River will Transform London's Thames with Light" 02 Dec 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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