Illuminated River – Second Phase

London Bridge, July 2019 © James Newton

Illuminated River was conceived by American artist Leo Villareal in collaboration with London-based architecture practice, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, each of the five bridges will be illuminated with a site-specific light artwork that has been sensitively developed, paying attention to heritage, wildlife and the built environment to create something exceptional. 

One Blackfriars, July 2019 © James Newton
Cannon Street Bridge, July 2019 © James Newton

The installations will transform the river by night, celebrating and highlighting the important role that the London bridges continue to play on the capital’s global identify and the important artery routes that link both parts of London. 

Rendering – Westminster Bridge © Leo Villareal

The lighting is on every night from just before dusk until 2am, with lighting that moves softly, with every single bridge having a different algorithm designed to never repeat. 

Rendering – Blackfriars Road © Leo Villareal

As a free outdoor art project, Illuminated River can be enjoyed by all, offering a much-needed ‘real life’ cultural experience in the city with no need to wait, pay or pre-book.

Rendering – Golden Jubilee © Leo Villareal

The second phase planned for Spring 2021 will illuminate five Central London bridges (Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, Golden Jubilee Footbridges and Lambeth), in addition to the four bridges illuminated in 2019 (London, Cannon Street Railway, Southwark and Millennium). 

Rendering – Waterloo © Leo Villareal

Interesting, as a direct result and benefit of this public art commission, there has already been a significant reduction in energy use compared to previous bridge lighting, using a combination of LED fittings and reduced hours of illumination. 

Rendering – Waterloo © Leo Villareal

The Illuminated River public art commission will be in place for ten years, and once complete, will be the longest public art commission in the world. 

About Damian Holmes 3226 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at