The Illuminated River
Posted on Dec 12, 2016

The Illuminated River

Thomson Ecology has been involved in the initial stages of a very exciting, high profile project in the Thames.

The Illuminated River is a project which aims to revitalise and enhance the bridges in central London using light. This will be a permanent art installation from Albert Bridge in Chelsea to Tower Bridge.

105 teams from 20 countries entered the competition and 6 teams were short listed. Thomson Ecology was approached by one of the 6 shortlisted teams, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS), for specialist advice on the possible impacts of lighting these bridges on marine ecology.

LDS has teamed up with a renowned American artist, Leo Villareal, who is famous for his project ‘The Bay Lights’ which lit San Francisco Bay Bridge for two years. Due to its popularity this project has been revived and is now a permanent feature of the bridge. See a video of the lighting here.

The proposal

Leo will bring his tools of software and light to central London. It is proposed that the movement of the lights will mimic the movement of the wind and water, and the colours will reflect those of the sky.

The schemes were required to show that the lighting would be sensitive to the environment and sustainability by reducing pollution and wasted energy while being considerate to the history and ecology of the Thames.

Thomson Ecology gave initial, overarching advice on the impacts of light on fish and marine mammals, as well as bats and birds. The team used this advice during their competition interview to demonstrate that the lighting would be designed with ecology in mind in order to have as little negative impact as possible.

On 7th December, Sarah Marjoram, Marine Consultant at Thomson Ecology, was invited to an event to announce the winners of the competition at the Tate Modern. The announcement, made by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, revealed that LDS and Leo Villareal were the successful team!

The team will now start to develop the design concepts in collaboration with stakeholders and partners along the river, and in consultation with the public.
It is expected that the project will be live in 2018.

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      Knowledge Hub The Illuminated River