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The Illuminated River

United Kingdom


  • Adjaye Associates (UK)
  • AL_A (UK)
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA)
  • Les Éclairagistes Associés (France)
  • Winner Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (UK) with Leo Villareal
  • Sam Jacob Studio (UK) with Simon Heijdens

The Illuminated River is anticipated to be one of the most ambitious design commissions in Europe in recent years. It will provide London with a new and free attraction: a permanent light installation on 17 bridges along the Thames. This will help to sustain London’s momentum as one of the most creative and innovative global cities; provide the opportunity for growing London’s night time economy; and, through the use of new technologies, support London’s move towards low-carbon, sustainable and green solutions.

The project is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders including the Mayor of London, the City of London, Westminster City Council, Transport for London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Network Rail.

One hundred and five teams (made up of 346 individual firms) entered the competition, with nearly half the submissions coming from overseas. The six finalist teams, which included celebrated and emerging artists and architects and featured international collaborations, developed concept design lighting schemes for four bridges – Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea – along with a design masterplan for all the bridges.

Concept designs went on display to the public in November 2016 – at London’s Royal Festival Hall and online – with the winner announced in early December.

The initiative was widely covered in the national and international media, including features in The Times, The Guardian and The New York Times, and on the BBC News.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

‘The Illuminated River will breathe new life into the Thames and create a dazzling outdoor gallery for Londoners to enjoy each night, showing that our capital remains a leader in innovation, sustainability and artistic creativity.’

Four of London’s bridges were illuminated in Summer 2019, with a further five scheduled for illumination in 2021.