Artist Leo Villareal and his team have been chosen to develop a series of installations that will light up the bridges along the River Thames in London, UK. Their contest-winning proposal, "Current," envisages colorful lighting installed on the 17 bridges from Tower Bridge to Albert Bridge.

The Illuminated River is a public art project that was launched earlier this year. Already funded to the tune of £10 million (US$12.4 million) by private and philanthropic backers, it is aimed at celebrating the River Thames and making it more a part of London's night-time economy.

There are actually three parts to Villareal's concept, with the first being the lighting of the bridges. Villareal also intends to take control of commercial lighting along the banks of the river with the aim of giving coherence to the illumination scheme and using it for accompanying cultural projects. A third component of the project will see a series of as yet undefined "immersive installations" accompany the lighting.

"In order to nuance the concept design and create presence and legibility, we intend to take time to study the river in all its manifestations," explains Villareal in a press release. "We want to listen to Londoners in developing the scheme to deliver at all levels of art and light, urban design and architecture, the environment and sustainability. Our aim is for a lighting masterplan which reduces pollution and wasted energy, is sensitive to history and ecology and subtly rebalances the ambient lighting on the river to provide a beautiful nighttime experience for residents and visitors."

Of the 17 bridges that will be involved, four examples have been provided. The plan is for London Bridge to be fitted with 498 LED lights that will be used to create a wash of warm colors that will move and change over time.

At Waterloo Bridge, 640 LEDs will be used to create a wash of light on its underside. In keeping with the many tones and colors in which the bridge has been portrayed by artists, the colors used will be a variety of pinks and reds.

Westminster Bridge will be fitted with 406 LEDs that will be sequenced to change based on the cycle of the tide. The bridge will be washed in soft violet and blue tones to complement its green paint, which matches the seats in the nearby House of Commons.

Finally, Chelsea Bridge will be bathed in warm white tones, sequenced to change randomly. Like the other bridges, its underside will be lit, using 172 LEDs, but it will also have 3,016 LED nodes along the cables and bars that comprise its suspension structure.

Villareal intends to use Philips LED luminaires for the project, having worked with them previously. He believes he can achieve a 50 percent reduction of the current amount energy used to light the bridges. Proposed luminescence levels for each bridge, meanwhile, are aimed at ensuring they stand out without being overly bright.

The Illuminated River received submissions from 105 teams in 20 countries, while 10,000 people visited an exhibition of the six shortlisted proposals during November. Villareal's team will now develop its concept over the course of next year.

Source: The Illuminated River

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