A New York artist has been chosen to create a £20m permanent lighting project which will light up 17 bridges along the River Thames, as part of one of the UK’s biggest ever public art commissions. The idea is to create a “world-class lighting scheme” on the bridges along the Thames. After looking at the proposals we’re sure the river is going to be luminous once the work is done. With first installations in 2018, a Thames boat charter will have a whole new dimension added, becoming the grandstand seat to take in this fantastic spectacle.
Titled The Illuminated River, the aim of the project is to create a lighting scheme that, according to the project itself, “will introduce elegant lighting that will breathe new life into the river each evening and create the world’s longest permanent outdoor river gallery.” As well as being dazzling to the eye, the project will celebrate London’s history, contribute to the sustainability of the Thames and create a space where events can take place. Proposals were sent in by a number of design companies in June last year for the scheme. In total six of these proposals were shortlisted before Leo Villareal’s design was chosen in November as the winner. [You can see all the shortlisted proposals here.]
Villareal – who was responsible for lighting up the San Francisco Bay Bridge – along with the British architects and urban planners Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands proposed a “rhythm of light” across each bridge. Computer algorithms will be used to create this effect. They will tie the lights and their colours with the ebb and flow of the river and the people walking along the bridge. The video below gives a nice glimpse into what the bridges will look like once the project is installed.
Hannah Rothschild, a film-maker, novelist and chair of the National Gallery, who initially had the idea for the Thames lighting project had this to say about the design:
“Their scheme is beautiful, ambitious and realisable but always considerate to the environment, lighting levels and energy conservation,” she said.
After winning the competition Villareal said he was “delighted and humbled” that the jury chose his design. He went on to say that, “our aim is for 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.”
The Illuminated River will be a permanent outdoor gallery. The design will take in 17 bridges over six nautical miles from Tower Bridge in the east to Albert Bridge in the west.
In 2017 the design team will study the river and speak to Londoners as they develop the scheme further. Construction work will then begin in 2018 with no set date given as of yet for its completion.
The competition set a budget of £20m for the entire project, though it is not currently known exactly how much this particular design will cost. However, the first stage of the design is expected to cost approx. £400k., with the second stage coming in at £2.5m. By this point the project should be in detailed development. The Rothschild Foundation and Mayor of London are funding the first stage of the project. They will be looking for further funding for the remaining stages.
You can find out more about the Illuminated River at illuminatedriver.london
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