“Since the founding of London, the mighty Thames has been the city’s main artery, linking north and south, east and west, encouraging business, activity and recreation. But at night, the river becomes a ribbon of darkness, a place that few can enjoy. This project will bring light, energy and beauty to the river and tat the flick of a switch, transform the city at night. Leo Villareal’s proven ability to paint with light matched with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ direct experience of building bridges over the Thames is an irresistible and inspirational combination.”
Hannah Rothschild, Trustee of the Illuminated River Foundation

The Illuminated River will transform and capture the spirit of the Thames with a unique and unified light installation. It will incorporate up to 15 bridges, from Albert Bridge to Tower Bridge and once completed, it will be the longest public art commission in the world.

In 2016 a competition was launched and the winning scheme led by New York-based artist Leo Villareal and London-based architect Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, impressed the jury for their kinetic artworks as well as their respect of nature, the surrounding environment and local inhabitants.

Leo Villareal will use the latest LED technology to “paint with light” and his design will engage in a different way with each bridge, emphasizing their history and architecture, while the integrated motion across all of the bridges will create a unified artwork that connects them all and references the river as a continuous living system.

“I want to take inspiration from the artists who have been inspired by the Thames”, says Villareal, “by Turner, Whistler and Monet.”

“The Illuminated River will give London free art. The project also means that a wasted asset and wasted resource will now be used. The team had thought through how the project is sustainable, how it will be energy efficient and use less energy.”
Sadiq Kahn, Mayor of London

The project will start this summer with the first four bridges being illuminated by July: London Bridge, Cannon Street railway bridge, Southwark Bridge and the Millennium Bridge.