Illuminated River

    London, United Kingdom

    Photo Credits: Photo Credits: © James Newton #1, 3, 5, © Paul Crawley #2, © Jason Hawkes #4

    Illuminated River celebrates the unique character of London’s landmark bridges

    To reinvigorate the famous River Thames bridges and further differentiate London as one of the world’s most attractive capital cities, Signify was selected in 2018 to supply a comprehensive LED lighting system to illuminate the bridges with dynamic, artistic lighting effects via its centrally managed software and lifecycle services to remotely monitor and manage the connected bridge lighting for 10 years. Signify was awarded the contract due to its extensive experience delivering dynamic, architectural lighting across some of the world’s most iconic landmarks.


    It was the first time there had been a holistic strategy to light up all central London’s bridges. The aim was to create a multi-level visual experience for the bridges viewed by pedestrians on the bridges, from London’s riverbanks, from the air, from tall buildings, and by boat.


    Since then, nine bridges have been transformed by dynamic, connected, and energy-efficient lighting as part of London’s River Thames Illuminated River installation. Five bridges were switched on in April 2021 to complete the project, which now spans 3.2 miles from London Bridge in the east to Lambeth Bridge in the west, making Illuminated River the world’s longest public art commission.


    The most recent bridges, Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee, Westminster, and Lambeth Bridges each received a unique treatment from New York-based artist Leo Villareal and award-winning London architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. The artist and architects were selected for the project by an international jury in an open competition in 2016.


    Leo Villareal’s sympathetic palette of gently moving hues and pastel colors brings the separate identities of the bridges to life, while highlighting their unique underlying architecture and engineering. Each of the nine bridges features Color Kinetics ColorGraze MX4 Powercore, ReachElite High Punch Powercore, RGBW, and Blast Powercore, RGBW luminaires. In addition, Color Kinetics iColor Accent Compact RGBW was used on the parapets of Waterloo Bridge and Color Kinetics Flex Compact was used so that the nodes could be positioned precisely within the crests of Westminster Bridge. The energy-efficient LED lighting is connected seamlessly to Interact Landmark software and system architecture, which is used to monitor the installation from a single, secure dashboard.


    Seen by an estimated 90 million people each year, Illuminated River provides the public with an opportunity to enjoy the beauty and calm of the Thames and its bridges and observe the varied architectural and engineering heritages along London’s river. The project was funded almost exclusively by philanthropists with the support of the Mayor of London and was completed on time and on budget despite challenges presented by COVID-19.


    “At Illuminated River we wanted to create an enduring artwork celebrating the Thames and its bridges and highlighting the city’s creativity. We have brought together a wide range of partners and stakeholders to deliver this complex and challenging project. Signify’s flexible products and extensive experience has helped realize the artist’s creative vision in an environmentally sustainable way.” - Sarah Gaventa, Director Illuminated River Foundation.


    “As the main artery driving the historic success of the UK’s capital, the Thames deserves to be seen, understood, and celebrated. I am immensely proud that Signify is part of a project of this scale and vision. Here, light is both functional and beautiful, transforming the night-time appeal of the riverside while highlighting and reinterpreting nine of the city’s great accomplishments of architecture and engineering.” - Stephen Rouatt, Chief Executive Officer for Signify UK and Ireland.


    Project credits


    Illuminated River Foundation



    Leo Villareal

    Lighting Designer:

    Atelier Ten



    Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

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