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Illuminated River

with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands

One hundred and five teams from around the world entered the international competition run by the Illuminated River Foundation and the Mayor of London to illuminate 17 bridges along the River Thames: Atelier Ten are pleased to be part of the competition-winning team.

Led by New York artist Leo Villareal and renowned London architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands working with FuturePlace, our proposal has been designed to enliven the Thames with dynamic lighting. Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation said, “Their scheme is beautiful, ambitious and realisable but always considerate to the environment, lighting levels and energy conservation. The jury is convinced that the winning team will transform the centre of London while remaining true to the spirit and integrity of the Thames and its communities.”

As well as technically realising Villareal’s artist vision for the bridges, Atelier Ten will be developing a lighting solution that both minimises energy usage and spill light. The river is home to over 100 species of fish and numerous species of bats which could potentially be disturbed by light. One of our key aims is to ensure careful control of the bridge lighting to avoid any disturbance to this diverse and rich ecosystem.

Our involvement in the initial stages has been to carry out an innovative and extensive luminance survey of the existing bridges and their surroundings. This is being used to develop recommendations for target light levels for each bridge to ensure the bridges are each lit to an appropriate level tailored to their surroundings and neighbouring iconic landmarks. In turn, this target light level will inform the selection of lighting equipment and ensure minimum energy usage and spill of light.

The luminance survey covered the entire length of the river between Albert and Tower Bridge. For such an extensive study an innovative solution had to be developed. Specialist analysis software and a calibrated SLR camera were used to provide calibrated luminance plots from hundreds of photographs which were taken during night time surveys along the river banks. The calibrated photographs were pieced together to provide a complete record of the brightness distribution along both banks of the Thames.