The Illuminated River

The Illuminated River project will oversee a project on behalf of the Rothschild Foundation and the Greater London Authority to add lighting to all the bridges along the central section of the River Thames. Established in 2016, it aims to enhance some of the capital’s less well-used public spaces.

Update – On the 7th of December 2016, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, announced that Leo Villareal  and his team have won the Illuminated River International Design Competition. Work will begin in 2017 to develop the design concept, named ‘Current’,  in collaboration with stakeholders and partners along the river, and in consultation with the public.

Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, said: “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 winner was chosen by a jury from 6 shortlisted designs. The public had an opportunity to give feedback in an exhibition held at the Royal Festival Hall throughout November which displayed details of each of the shortlisted concepts.

For a long time the river Thames has been a huge part of London’s identity, a vast contributor to its economy and growing culture. In daylight, it is there for all to see, attracting tourism and providing a welcoming calmness – a respite from the constant bustle. It is at night, however, that this project aims to enhance both the spectacle and the associated economic benefits of the river Thames.

Cross River Partnership plans to work in conjunction with the Rothschild Foundation and the Greater London Authority to carry out an innovative measure in an attempt to keep London at the forefront of expressive art culture and attracting more interest to its night time economy. The Illuminated River project, led by the new Illuminated River Foundation, will encompass 17 historical bridges that run across the river to represent the vibrant and futuristic approach London is taking through the use of low-carbon, sustainable and green technology.

The 17 bridges within the scope of the project are: Albert Bridge, Chelsea Bridge, Grosvenor Railway Bridge, Nine Elms (planned), Vauxhall Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Footbridges, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars Railway Bridge, Millennium Footbridge, Southwark Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

The Illuminated River project is supported by the Mayor of London, the City of London, Westminster City Council, Transport for London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Network Rail.

Please see for further details on the project.

“This project will transform London’s historic river and the City of London Corporation is very proud to play a part in making it happen. We want the City of London to be at the heart of what looks likely to be the largest art project of its kind in the world.”

Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation

“The response to the Illuminated River competition was extraordinary and humbling: more than 100 teams entered the competition, including some of the leading international names in design, lighting, technical and the arts. The final shortlist represents an exhilarating mix of talent, inspiration and design approach. In November the finalists’ concept designs will be unveiled, and London will have six possible visions of how the river and the city might be transformed after dark.”

Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation

“This is a really exciting opportunity to breathe new life through the heart of London each night in a new, permanent, fluid light art installation across the capital’s historic bridges. It will throw a spotlight on the river and its banks, and extend their daytime bustle and buzz into the darker hours, supporting London’s burgeoning night-time economy. A dazzling, free outdoor art gallery, for Londoners and all of our visitors to enjoy would encourage new investment and promote our great city to the rest of the world. With the right design, we can remind the world that London continues to be the global leader in innovation, sustainability and artistic creativity.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

CRP Team members

Susannah Wilks


Project partners