London

Designs unveiled to light London bridges on River Thames

Design for Illuminated River project Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/Les Éclairagistes
Image caption Members of the public can give their views on the project's website

Six teams have been shortlisted for a design competition to permanently light up 17 of London's bridges along the River Thames.

The Illuminated River project will see the pedestrian, road and rail crossings between Albert and Tower Bridge lit.

More than 100 international groups entered the competition which has raised £10m so far in private funding.

The designs are on display at the Royal Festival Hall during November with the winner announced on 8 December.

According to the organisers, the Illuminated River Foundation, the project will be funded "from private and philanthropic sources rather than the public purse".

The project has been backed by Sadiq Khan who said it would be a "wonderful celebration" of the river and "a major contribution to the growing importance of London's night-time economy".

The foundation said they hoped to install the winning design in 2018 depending on whether they could raise more funds and following consultation with local councils and the people who own the bridges.


The six shortlisted designs:

Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/Adjaye Associates
Image caption Blurring Boundaries: As well as the crossings being illuminated, the design would see lookout towers and a new auditorium built along the Thames

Blurring Boundaries has been designed by the Adjaye Associates' who say their idea "re-imagines the bridges not as connectors, but as the heart of London itself".

Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/AL_A
Image caption The Eternal Story of the River Thames: At low tide the bottom of the bridges would be illuminated, while at high tide the elevations would be lit

The designers behind The Eternal Story of the River Thames say they "want to reveal the river as a breathing, pulsing organism" with the lighting of the bridges changing with the tide.

Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/Diller Scofidio +
Image caption Synchronizing the City: The lights would draw the river in the sky with beams of light

Synchronizing the City: Its Natural and Urban Rhythms would see the crossings "slowly fill with light like a vessel with liquid" during the night, before beams on each bridge shine into the sky.

Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/Leo Villareal
Image caption Current: This project was partly designed by the artist who created the Bay Lights in San Francisco

Current is a "transformational artwork" which is "designed to enliven the Thames using dynamic light" in three different stages, according to its designers.

Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/Les Éclairagistes
Image caption A River Ain't Too Much To Light: Reproductions of lampposts from other world cities would "emerge" from the river depending on the height of the tide

A River Ain't Too Much To Light would see the bridges being illuminated progressively, "to follow the ideal line of demarcation between light and shadow (twilight)", its designers say.

Image copyright Malcolm Reading Consultants/Sam Jacob Studio
Image caption Thames Nocturne: A band of light would lie above the Thames which would alter depending on how the river moved

The Thames Nocturne would form "a ribbon of light connecting Chelsea to Wapping".


From west to east, the 17 bridges and the years they were opened:

  • Albert Bridge - 1873
  • Chelsea Bridge - 1937
  • Grosvenor Bridge - 1859
  • Nine Elms Bridge (in development)
  • Vauxhall Bridge - 1906
  • Lambeth Bridge - 1932
  • Westminster Bridge - 1862
  • Hungerford Bridge - 1864 and Jubilee Bridge in 2002
  • Waterloo Bridge - 1945
  • The Garden Bridge (in development)
  • Blackfriars Bridge - 1869
  • Blackfriars Railway Bridge - 1886
  • Millennium Bridge - 2002
  • Southwark Bridge - 1921
  • Cannon Street Railway Bridge - 1866/1982
  • London Bridge - 1973
  • Tower Bridge - 1894

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