“Illuminated River” Contest Lights Up Thames
In London, an ambitious art project called aims to transform the river after dark with shortlisted projects to be presented to the public in November
Lighting up the Thames after dark, is the ambition of London’s “Illuminated River” art project, originally launched by writer and filmmaker Hannah Rothschild. “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.” declared Rothschild to the Guardian.
Architects and agencies were asked to propose creative designs for Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea bridges. The winning proposal will transform 17 bridges along the River, making it “a ribbon of light”. Among 100 entries, 6 projects have been shortlisted: Adjaye Associates, A_LA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Leo Villareal with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Future\Pace, Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella, and Sam Jacob Studio with Simon Heijdens.
Each team has taken a different approach to the project. London-based Adjaye Associates, for example, have assigned a different artist to each bridge, including the world-renowned contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, and have focused on the bridges’ individual histories. Architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands have worked with Leo Villareal, the imagination behind The Bay Lights installation on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in 2013, to create an interactive light display that would involve participation from a ferry boat operator. The designs by Sam Jacob and Simon Heijdens show a three-dimensional ribbon of light rising and lowering with the tide.
The successful projects are presented this month at the Royal Festival Hall exhibition, where the public are invited to share their opinions on the designs via a short survey, although the vote itself will be decided by an 11-member jury. The winning team will be announced on December 8, and the installations will be completed in 2018.