Westminster Bridge in London. Photography: Rob

The Illuminated River design competition has named six teams in the running to create a public light installation that will span 17 of London’s bridges.

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili, architect David Adjaye and artist Doug Aitken are among the names shortlisted to submit proposals.

Designed as permanent installations, the final pieces will use new lighting technology to ‘reclaim the river after dark’, making the Thames more accessible to the public throughout the year.

Tower Bridge. Photography: damo1977

‘In daylight, the Thames speaks for itself, but on winter afternoons and at night it fades into a ribbon of darkness,’ says competition organiser, Malcolm Reading. ‘London’s natural centrepiece becomes shadowy and obscure, inhibiting the atmosphere in many of the public spaces surrounding it.’

105 teams entered the competition – backed by the Mayor of London and the Rothschild Foundation – with the final list including names from across the worlds of art, architecture and literature.

Artists Ofili and Aitken will work with Adjaye Associates on a proposal, while British filmmaker Asif Kapadia is partnering with architects A_LA and playwright Simon Stephens. Leo Villareal – who designed the Bay Lights installation in San Francisco – will be collaborating with British architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

Lambeth Bridge
Lambeth Bridge. Photography: WereSpielChequers

The six teams will now be invited to submit proposals for four of London’s bridges – Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea – tailoring their design to the characteristics of each, and focusing on using green technology.

Each submission will be judged by a panel including artist James Turrell, former Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones, and Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva.

Concepts are set to be revealed to the public in November.

The full shortlist can be seen below:

  • Adjaye Associates with Chris Ofili, Thukral & Tagra, Doug Aitken, AKTII, HPF (Hurley Palmer Flatt), Four Communications, DP9, Plan A and DHA Designs
  • AL_A with Asif Kapadia, Simon Stephens, SEAM Design and GROSS.MAX
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro with L’Observatoire International, Arup, Transsolar, Jennifer Tipton and Oliver Beer
  • Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi, ewo, Federico Pietrella, and GVA Lighting Europe Limited
  • Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with Future\Pace, Leo Villareal, Pentagram, Price & Myers, Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine and Core Five
  • Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens with Electrolight, Daisy Froud and Elliott Wood

Read next: 10 things to experience at the London Design Festival.



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