The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, this evening announced that a team led by the internationally acclaimed American light artist Leo Villareal and renowned British architects and urban planners, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, have won the Illuminated River International Design Competition.
The Illuminated River is a design commission on an unprecedented scale: a unified scheme conceived to light central London’s bridges along the River Thames.
The seven month search for a world class team to illuminate the Thames’ bridges in a free, permanent light installation saw submissions from 105 teams in 20 countries around the world. The six shortlisted concepts went on show in a public exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall in November, seen by over 10,000 people.
The winning team will now start to develop the design concepts in collaboration with stakeholders and partners along the river, and in consultation with the public. This work will take place in 2017.
The winning team in full:
Leo Villareal (Lead Artist)
Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (Lead Consultant)
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival
Price & Myers
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said:
“We saw an incredible response to this fascinating competition, showing that London continues to inspire creatives from around the globe, and is open to all. There were some spectacular ideas, and I can’t wait to see the winning design light up the Thames. Huge congratulations to Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands on this fantastic achievement.”
Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, said:
“Leo Villareal’s proven ability to paint with light matched with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ direct experience of building bridges over the Thames was an irresistible and inspirational combination.”
“Their scheme is beautiful, ambitious and realisable but always considerate to the environment, lighting levels and energy conservation. The jury is convinced that the winning team will transform the centre of London while remaining true to the spirit and integrity of the Thames and its communities.”
The internationally acclaimed American artist, Leo Villareal, came to prominence through his celebrated project, The Bay Lights, which lit San Francisco Bay Bridge for two years. Due to its extraordinary popularity, the installation has been revived this year as a permanent element of the cityscape and adopted by the public as a new icon for the city. He trained as a sculptor and has been working with light and computer code for more than a decade, creating major installations, sculptures and public projects that have captivated audiences all over the world. His work is in the permanent collections of museums including MoMA New York and the National Gallery of Art Washington. Most recently in London he participated in the Hayward Gallery’s acclaimed exhibition, Lightshow.
Award-winning architects, design consultants and urban planners, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, have worked on major projects across London including the Golden Jubilee footbridges and have a 25-year relationship with communities and businesses in London’s South Bank, having created the area’s urban design strategy and worked with the Coin Street Community Builders to regenerate the area through the development of co-operative housing, and commercial ventures to support new urban realm initiatives.
Leo Villareal said:
“I’m delighted and humbled by the fact that the jury went with an artistically-driven vision for the Illuminated River. The whole team shares a belief in the power of large-scale public culture and art to enrich our cities. We are deeply committed to this project. In order to nuance the concept design and create presence and legibility, we intend to take time to study the river in all its manifestations. We want to listen to Londoners in developing the scheme to deliver at all levels of art and light, urban design and architecture, the environment and sustainability. Our aim is for a lighting masterplan which reduces pollution and wasted energy, is sensitive to history and ecology and subtly rebalances the ambient lighting on the river to provide a beautiful night time experience for residents and visitors.”
The Illuminated River Foundation is working with many stakeholders along the Thames supported by the Mayor of London and the City of London Corporation. Its growing list of key partners include Cross River Partnership, Historic England, London & Partners, Network Rail, Port of London Authority, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Southbank London, Tideway, Totally Thames, Thames Estuary Partnership, Transport for London and Westminster City Council.
The Illuminated River Foundation will raise the funds for the costs of the project from private and philanthropic sources rather than the public purse. The Foundation has already announced the first pledges totalling £10 million in November. This includes £5 million from the Arcadia Fund (Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing) and £5 million from the Rothschild Foundation.
Seed funding of £100,000 was granted for The Illuminated River from the Greater London Authority, to support the process for the design competition, alongside funding of £250,000 from the Rothschild Foundation, and a contribution of £500,000 from the City of London Corporation (via the Bridge House Estates) towards the delivery of the first phase.