London bridges to be transformed by public art installation from next summer as Illuminated River project goes on site

Illuminated River overall view © Illuminated River, Leo Villareal Studio

The Illuminated River Foundation announces the initial stage of the Illuminated River public art commission, which will light up London Bridge, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium Bridges in summer 2019. Following the granting of planning permissions, work will shortly commence on site, two years since the winning team was announced by the Mayor Sadiq Khan.

When complete, the free and publicly accessible light installation will span up to 15 central London bridges, from Albert Bridge in West London to Tower Bridge in the City, unifying them in a single artwork and defining them as a sculptural and symbolic link across the capital. The activation across the bridges will be phased, with a further section completing in 2020, and Illuminated River due to be fully delivered by 2022, subject to funding being secured.

Illuminated River reframes the Thames at night, celebrating London’s historic links with its river and creating a legacy for London in an artwork that will be in place for at least 10 years. The philanthropically-funded project incorporates a maintenance programme, funded for the lifetime of the artwork. The Illuminated River Foundation has committed to raising the funds for the project from private and philanthropic sources. It is pleased to announce that the Blavatnik Family Foundation has become the third major supporter, with a most generous, multi-million pound donation. This is alongside donations formerly announced from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin and the Rothschild Foundation.

The scheme has been developed in consultation and collaboration with over 50 organisations on and around the river, including the Port of London Authority, Historic England, Cross River Partnership, seven local authorities (City of London, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, Southwark, RBKC, Lambeth, Wandsworth) from whom 29 planning permissions and 18 listed building consents have been granted.

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Neil Mendoza, said: “A tremendous amount of work has been done since the winning team of Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands was announced almost two years ago.

“Much of that work has been undertaken in collaboration with organisations up and down the river, including one of the largest and most detailed planning processes London has seen. We are grateful for the contribution of all our partners and look forward to continuing our work together.

“We are also extremely pleased to have the support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, whose generous donation has been invaluable in helping us turn the Illuminated River from a vision into reality. We look forward to announcing more details about the illumination of the four bridges in due course.” #IlluminatedRiver

Project team

Artist: Leo Villareal Studio

Lead consultant: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

Cost consultant: Core Five

Principal designer: PFB Ltd

EIA consultant: Temple Group

Ecology consultant: Thomson Ecology

Planning consultant: Montagu Evans

Structural engineering: Price & Myers

Marine engineering: Beckett Rankine

MEP engineering: Atelier Ten

Lighting manufacturers: Signify (formerly Philips Lighting)

Community engagement: Iceni

Measured survey: MSA Ltd

Bats and birds survey: The Wildlife Trusts