The Project

Illu­mi­nat­ed Riv­er is an ambi­tious, new pub­lic art com­mis­sion which will trans­form the cap­i­tal at night, light­ing up to 15 bridges on the Riv­er Thames. Once com­plete, it will be the longest pub­lic art project in the world, seen over 130 mil­lion times each year dur­ing its 10 year lifespan.

Conceived by internationally-acclaimed artist Leo Villareal and British architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, and delivered by the Illuminated River Foundation, the artwork has been sensitively developed, paying attention to heritage, wildlife and the built environment to create something exceptional – a transformation that celebrates the role that the Thames bridges play in the enduring global identity of London, and encourages people to enjoy the river and riverside at night.

The realisation of the project has involved a unique collaboration of London’s creative talent, statutory bodies and local communities and will leave a lasting legacy for the capital in the form of a dynamic public artwork, refocusing and celebrating the Thames bridges as social, historical and architectural landmarks.

Illuminated River is a beacon of London’s creativity, ambition and spirit, free and accessible for all to view. Apart from an initial investment of £250,000 from the Olympic Reserve towards the costs of an international competition to light the bridges, Illuminated River is funded through philanthropic sources, and will continue to seek the balance from private sources rather than the public purse.

From the Fourth Plinth to Art on the Underground, our city has a rich heritage of showcasing public art, and I am delighted that Illuminated River is bringing more free and accessible artwork to Londoners. The Thames has played a key role in the growth and development of our capital for centuries, and this unique artwork will help Londoners and visitors see it in a whole new way. The Illuminated River will celebrate the unique architecture and heritage of our bridges, showcase creativity, boost life at night and transform the way we think about the Thames.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Animation of artist Leo Villareal’s final design concepts for the 15 bridges. This animation focuses on the artistic concept and is not an accurate representation of London at night and omits street and footway lighting on the bridges and navigation lights.

View the shortlisted entries for Illuminated River's initial competition to light London's bridges, which attracted over 100 submissions from artists across the world.

Project Team

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