Illuminated River International Design Competition Winner

John Hill
9. December 2016
Leo Villareal: The Bay Lights - Bay Bridge, San Francisco (Photo: James Ewing)

Earlier this week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced that the team of American light artist Leo Villareal and British architecture firm Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands have won the Illuminated River International Design Competition.

Billed as "a design commission on an unprecedented scale," Illuminated River, which launched in June 2016, asked entrants to develop a scheme to light central London’s bridges along the River Thames. From the 105 submissions, six finalists were selected in early September (including Adjaye Associates, AL_A, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro), when they were tasked to conceive a design masterplan for the project and provide concept designs for four specific bridges: Westminster, Waterloo, London, and Chelsea. Villareal's Bay Lights installation on the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands' bridges in London were cited specificially in the announcement of the winner.

Villareal said in the announcement, "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." Further, "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."

The Illuminated River overview (Visualization: © Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands)

The full team of the winning entry, titled "Current":

  • Leo Villareal (Lead Artist)
  • Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (Lead Consultant)
  • Future\Pace (Curator)
  • Atelier Ten
  • Beckett Rankine
  • Bradley Hemmings
  • Core Five
  • Futurecity
  • Greenwich+Docklands International Festival
  • Montagu Evans
  • Pentagram
  • Price & Myers

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands: Royal Victoria Dock Bridge, London (Photo: © Chris Gascoigne)

The jury:

  • Lord Rothschild, Chairman, RIT Capital Partners plc, Chairman, Rothschild Foundation
  • Hannah Rothschild, Chair, Illuminated River Foundation
  • Malcolm Reading, Architect and Competition Director (Professional Chair)
  • Professor Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies and Director, LSE Cities and the Urban Age Programme
  • Michael Craig-Martin, Artist
  • Lucy Musgrave, Director, Publica
  • Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, Serpentine Galleries 1991-2016
  • Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery
  • Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, City Hall
  • James Turrell, Artist

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