Outdoor

London river project to unveil five more bridges

Cannon Street bridge lit up in different colours
Cannon Street Bridge, seen here, will be joined this spring by Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee, Westminster and Lambeth Bridge in the Illuminated River project

THIS SPRING, the lighting of an additional five bridges over the Thames in London in the Illuminated River artwork is set to create the world’s longest public art commission. 

Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee, Westminster and Lambeth Bridges will be illuminated by New York-based artist Leo Villareal’s display of slowly moving light sequences, joining the four bridges already lit in 2019. 

The project team says the ambitious scheme will be delivered on time and on budget despite the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions.

The installation is the result of a collaborative initiative bringing together US lighting designer Leo Villareal, UK architecture practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, consulting engineers Atelier Ten, Signify and a further 17 specialist teams. 

A workman in high visibility clothing descends on a rope harness down from London Bridge
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.

The Illuminated River has no fewer than 50 project partners including seven London boroughs, Transport for London and Network Rail, as well as organisations such as Historic England, the London Wildlife Trust and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. 

Funded by donations from major benefactors, including environmental philanthropists Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin of the Arcadia Fund, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Reuben Foundation and the Rothschild Foundation, the ambitious project uses 13,000 Signify Color Kinetics LED lights.

The lights will be monitored remotely by the Interact Landmark software which will scan and detect faults automatically.

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

Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee, Westminster and Lambeth Bridges will be illuminated by New York-based artist Leo Villareal’s display of slowly moving light sequences, joining the four bridges already lit in 2019. 

‘Despite the many obstacles we faced in 2020 as a country, as an industry, and as a project, we’re delighted to announce that we’re on track to deliver this monumental cultural experience for London,’ said Lord Mendoza, chairman of the Illuminated River Foundation. 

‘As we complete this chapter of the artwork, we hope the public will enjoy this amazing installation, and we will keep working to continue its legacy. 

‘We hope that Illuminated River can act as a ray of light, pointing towards a hopeful future for the UK’s arts and culture sector.’

An engineer commissioning the lighting. The ambitious project uses 13,000 Signify Color Kinetics LED lights, all monitored remotely by the Interact Landmark software which will scan and detect faults automatically.