The Illuminated River is a design commission on an unprecedented scale: a scheme conceived to light central London’s bridges along the River Thames. The River Thames has been integral to London’s evolution, shaping its communities and driving its economy, and now we will illuminate the heart of the city, encouraging use at night as well as in the day, promoting a 24 hour city.
We want to tell the eternal story of the River Thames. The tides of the Thames, its depths and its currents, are a direct force of nature. They have been this way for hundreds of thousands of years. Ever since the construction of the city, London has been an attempt to move away from the natural forces that have defined the place. We want to reveal the river as a breathing, pulsing organism and so illuminate the age and the tides of this ancient estuary.
We want to illuminate the river walls as a constant thread of light through the city that gently illumines the expanses of foreshore exposed at low tide. When the tide is low, the underbellies of the bridges are revealed by lighting. At high tide, the lighting shifts to illuminate the elevations of the bridges. The river and its tidal changes remind us that our lives play out not in the urgent context of minutes or hours, but in the slower, deeper context of thousands of centuries. It feels a good time to illuminate exactly that.