Six Schemes for Lighting up London's Bridges Shortlisted
The £20m Illuminated River project takes in 17 London bridges over six nautical miles , from the Albert Bridge in the west to Tower Bridge in the east.
On Monday it was announced that six proposals for lighting up the bridges, representing the work and ideas of artists, architects, designers, planners and engineers, had been shortlisted for what project organisers said was a design commission on an unprecedented scale.
The film-maker and novelist Hannah Rothschild , whose idea it was, said the Thames was the founding spirit of London , once its “beating heart”, but at night it was a ribbon of darkness, at odds with London’s ambition to be a 24-hour city .
“The river’s name derives from the Celtic word tamesas, which means dark, and sadly this is what happens to our river at night time. This important and beautiful artery becomes a river of darkness, a place that few can enjoy.”
“Imagine going to Paris or Rome and not being able to walk alongside the Seine or the Tiber. Imagine New York without the Brooklyn Bridge lit up. And what would Londoners think if St Paul’s or the Houses of Parliament or the National Gallery were dark most of the time?
“The Thames is our liquid history and we must reclaim it.”
Rothschild, who also chairs the National Gallery , said a central part of the project was that it should cost the taxpayer nothing. It has been estimated that it will cost £20m and half has so far been raised – £5m from the Rothschild Foundation , of which Hannah Rothschild is a trustee, and £5m donated by Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin , through their charitable Arcadia Fund .
The six projects will now go on display for three weeks at the Royal Festival Hall before a winner is announced on 8 December.
The six proposals are:
• One led by the firm of architect David Adjaye which would use designs by artists including Chris Ofili , Jeremy Deller , Lorna Simpson and Katharina Grosse .
• The firm of architect Amanda Levete would light the bridges’ underbellies during low tide and its elevations during hightide.
• The design studio of Diller Scofidio is proposing a project called Synchronising the City which will involve a “civic-scale” lighting ceremony with bridges being slowly filled with light like a vessel with liquid.
• The artist Leo Villareal , who created The Bay Lights in San Francisco , would integrate light and colour on the 17 bridges as well as creating a river setting for future cultural projects.
• The Lyon -based Les Éclairagistes Associés would have lampposts “planted” in the waters of the Thames.
• Sam Jacob Studio’s proposal is called The Thames Nocturne which would be “a ribbon of light connecting Chelsea to Wapping”.
The six entries were chosen from 105 submissions and the winner will be chosen by a panel of 11 to include the artists Michael Craig-Martin and James Turrell .
The Illuminated River exhibition is at the Royal Festival Hall, London , 9-29 November