Feature, Outdoor

London rivers light project passes major milestone

The aim of the Illuminated Rivers project is to create a multi-level visual experience for the bridges viewed by pedestrians on the bridges, from London’s riverbanks, from the air, from tall buildings and by boat.

LONDON’S ambitious lighting scheme, the Illuminated Rivers project, has passed its first major milestone.

An engineer from FM Conway on London Bridge recently. The company was named as the contractor for the first phase of the light art project in which up to 15 bridges across the Thames will be lit up. Pic: Mark Holland.

Engineers have completed the pre-commissioning –  the testing and programming of all connected lighting points for London Bridge – which is a key stage of phase one.

Just under 2,000 light points on the bridge have now been programmed. The light points give an enormous range of possibilities: they’re capable of displaying over 16.9 million different light colours and can be combined to create stunning lighting effects across London’s bridges using Signify’s sophisticted Interact Landmark’s lighting control system.

The company now finished the pre-commissioning process for all four bridges associated with phase one of the project: Southwark, Cannon, Millennium and London bridges.

This process involved the testing and programming of all connected lighting points. So far the company has successfully programmed over 6,000 light points for the first four bridges.

‘We’re making great progress on the first phase already’, said Iain Byrne, Signify’s project manager for Illuminated Rivers. ‘Once complete, the project will be the world’s longest public art commission and will reinvigorate the city’s famous River Thames bridges – not to mention further differentiating London as one of the world’s most attractive capital cities’.

‘Our Color Kinetics LED luminaires are tested, programmed, and tagged at our pre-commissioning centre located here in the UK.

‘This ensures that they’re of the highest quality and can meet the needs of all stakeholders including the Illuminated River Foundation, the artist, Leo Villareal’s Studio as well as the London boroughs where the bridges are located.’

Byrne says it takes around 240 man hours to prepare and test all the Color Kinetics LED lights for just one bridge.

‘The luminaires are then packaged up, labelled and coded individually. This ensures that they correspond with the specified plan and are shipped out to London Bridge, before being put in place by expert teams from Proctor’s Electrical Services at our installer, FM Conway.’

‘It might seem like simple logistics, but this process is absolutely essential to ensure the quality of the installation, particularly for such a large scale project.

‘Of course, being connected, these lights will be monitored remotely by the Interact Landmark software which will scan and detect faults automatically. In the meantime we can’t wait to see the lights in action once the first phase goes live later this year’.

In all, Signify will provide 13,000 LED luminaires and its Interact Landmark control system for the scheme, which gets underway this year.

The lighting design is by American artist Leo Villareal, who was named winner of an international design competition in December 2016 by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Villareal’s team includes British architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and consulting engineers Atelier Ten.

The project is being part-funded by TetraPak heiress Lisbet Rausing and her husband Peter Baldwin, the banking family, the Rothschilds and Blavatnik Family Foundation.

It’s the first time there has been a strategy to light up all of central London’s bridges.

The aim is to create a multi-level visual experience for the bridges viewed by pedestrians on the bridges, from London’s riverbanks, from the air, from tall buildings and by boat. 

Up to 15 bridges will be illuminated: London Bridge; Southwark Bridge; Cannon Street Bridge; Millennium Bridge; Blackfriars Railway Bridge; Golden Jubilee Bridge, Waterloo Bridge; Blackfriars Bridge; Lambeth Bridge; Vauxhall Bridge; Westminster Bridge; Grosvenor Bridge; Chelsea Bridge; Albert Bridge and Tower Bridge.


  • See the latest outdoor LED luminaires and control systems at the 2019 LuxLive exhibition and conference, taking place on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free if you pre-register. More information HERE.