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London bridges plan in troubled water as critics pan ideas

Plans to illuminate London's river bridges have received a frosty response from lighting designers.

The lighting schemes unveiled as part of the Illuminated River design competition to illuminate central London’s river bridges have received a frosty response from lighting designers.

The submissions, which include proposals to link each bridge with lasers of light, were slammed as ‘impractical’ online. It was also noted by designers that the project will only add further to London’s light pollution problem.

Lighting designer, Kristian Krogh, a partner at Lighting Design Collective commented on LinkedIn: ‘If this competition is to be the ‘benchmark’ of the lighting profession, I see a schism occurring.’

The proposals include plans to link each bridge with lasers of light, bathe London Bridge in a fiery hue and plant retro light posts in the waters of the river itself. The plans were submitted by notable design teams from around the world, including Adjaye Associates, Arup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, renowned light artist Leo Villareal, Sam Jacob Studio and Les Eclairagistes Associates.

There was also further rumblings about the jury who are to pick the winner in December. In an article by Emma Cogswell in the September edition of Lighting Journal it was 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.

There was also a flurry of negative responses to the designs on Twitter and the Lux website, with some labeling the projects as impossible to implement in their current form. One lighting designer, Paulina Villalobas, even went as far as to compare the Diller Scofidio + Renfro design ‘Synchronising the City’, which plans to use lasers to project light into the night sky, to the architectural work of Nazi architect Albert Speer.

Members of the public will be able to view the designs at the Royal Festival Hall in London for the next month to make up their own minds. A winner will be announced on the 8th of December.

You can see a full list of the designs in the running here.