The Illuminated River Foundation has unveiled the six designs shortlisted to transform the river Thames in London by lighting up key bridges along the length of the river. The six teams were selected in September and asked to work their initial schemes into concept designs for the Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea bridges. The teams comprise: 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. Read on to see all six designs.
Blurring Boundaries / Adjaye Associates
Adjaye Associates’ design aims to highlight the unique histories of each individual bridge, assembling a number of artists and designers to bring their own touch to each location. The cumulative effect of these interventions will be, as they describe it in their project description, “to reimagine the bridges not as connectors, but as the heart of London itself… they join to form a cohesive stitching for London’s heart, a vibrant new epicenter anchoring the two banks.” The design also includes a number of urban pavilions, with uses ranging from lookout towers to a new auditorium.
Full team: Adjaye Associates with Cai Guo-Qiang, Chris Ofili, Larry Bell, Jeremy Deller, Philippe Parreno, Richard Woods, Mariko Mori, Lorna Simpson, Teresita Fernández, Joana Vasconcelos, Angela Bulloch, Thukral & Tagra, Katharina Grosse, Glenn Ligon, Doug Aitken, Tomás Saraceno, onedotzero digital consultants, Plan A Consultants, DHA, Hurley Palmer Flatt, AKT II, AECOM, Arup, Sir Robert McAlpine, Tavernor Consultancy, DP9, Four Communications, Hayes Davidson digital visualisers, Bosch and iGuzzini.
The Eternal Story of the River Thames / A_LA
A_LA’s design focuses on exploring the river as a natural entity, which has constantly been ignored or even suppressed by the construction of the city around it. This is highlighted by continuous lighting along the river walls, creating “a constant thread of light through the city that gently illumines the expanses of foreshore exposed at low tide.” On the bridges, the lighting changes with the tides: at low tide the undersides of the bridges are illuminated, while at high tide the illumination shifts to the light up the bridges’ elevations.
Full Team: AL_A, Asif Kapadia, Simon Stephens, SEAM Design, Arup, GROSS. MAX., Mark Filip, Soundings and DP9.
Synchronizing the City: Its Natural and Urban Rhythms / Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design also highlights natural rhythms, in this case the natural rhythm of daylight. In the “magic hour” when the sun has set, each bridge will begin to “fill up” with light, reaching its maximum illumination one hour after the sun sets. At this moment, a beam of light will be briefly directed towards the sky, offering a “night kiss” at the end of twighlight. The lighting for each bridge will be carefully calibrated to its position along the river, with the precise timing of this display varying depending on the exact timing of the sunset in that location, thus giving a visual representation of the rotation of the earth.
Full Team: Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Oliver Beer, Arup, Copper Consultancy, L’Observatoire International, Penoyre & Prasad, Jennifer Tipton and Transsolar.
Current / Leo Villareal with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Future\Pace
Leo Villareal, the designer behind The Bay Lights on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, worked with London architecture firm Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and placemaking agency Future\Pace to imagine a designwhich not only includes site-specific colored displays at each bridge, but also incorporates forward-looking strategic plans and partnerships which aim to control commercial lighting along the river and increase public engagement through a variety of installations.
Full Team: Leo Villareal with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Future\Pace. Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine, Bradley Hemmings, Core Five, Futurecity, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, MBNA Thames Clippers, Montagu Evans, Pentagram, Price & Myers.
A River Ain’t Too Much To Light / Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella
Similar to the proposal by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the design by Les Éclairagistes Associés hopes to light each bridge at the opportune time between day and night, resulting in the timing of the bridges lighting being dependent on their precise location. In addition, the concept hopes to highlight London’s position as a global city by placing symbols of other global cities—specifically, faithful recreations of their lampposts—in the river itself, where they will be revealed to a greater or lesser extent depending on the height of the tides.
Full Team: Les Éclairagistes Associés (L.E.A.), ecqi ltd. and Federico Pietrella in association with GVA Lighting Europe Limited and ewo srl.
Thames Nocturne / Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens
The design by Sam Jacob and Simon Heijdens seeks to create a three-dimensional “ribbon” of light between Chelsea and Wapping that forms an overlay on top of the river. The ribbon itself will be formed of multiple planes of projected light, which through their overlapping layers will form an ethereal representation of the river directly below; the lower edge of each plane will vary depending on the depth of the river, while the upper edge will change constantly based on real-time measurements of the movement of the surface. Similarly, the bridges will be illuminated with a shifting monochromatic light that causing the perception of their form “to wax and wane as the tide rises and falls.”
Full Team: Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens with Studio Dekka, Daisy Froud, Elliott Wood, Jackson Coles and Professor John Tyrer.
More information about each design can be found at the webpage of competition organizers Malcolm Reading.