The 'Illuminated River' competition, which challenged design agencies all over the world to "create an elegant and charismatic light art installation of world-class quality for 17 of London's most celebrated bridges," is drawing to a close, with only 6 teams still in the running to see their visions become reality.
There were no fewer than 105 proposals from 20 different countries, but these have now been whittled down to just six by an independent panel. The six finalists' visions for the project are on public display at the Royal Festival Hall until November 29th, before a specially appointed jury picks and announces the winning proposal on December 8th. Work to make the winning design a real London fixture will then get underway in 2018, which could end up amounting to the biggest permanent public art project ever undertaken.
The project will see 17 of London's famous bridges illuminated, beginning with Albert Bridge in the west and ending with Tower Bridge in the east. Many of the bridges, including Grosvenor and Westminster, are well over a hundred years old, while Nine Elms and Garden are yet to be constructed.
Speaking at the launch of the Illuminated River Exhibition, Hannah Rothschild, the Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, emphasized the importance of elevating the visual presence of the River Thames at night. "Since the founding of London, the mighty Thames has been the city’s main artery, linking north and south, east and west, encouraging business, activity and recreation," said Rothschild.
"But at night, the river becomes a ribbon of darkness, a place that few enjoy and at odds with the ambition to make London a 24-hour city. This project will bring light, energy, beauty and recreation to the river and at the flick of a switch, transform the city at night."
The visions and interpretations proposed by each of the six finalists certainly appear to have the capacity to achieve exactly that. From tide-inspired installations and a "night kiss" beaming up into the night sky to ribbons of light on the banks of the river to water-based lamposts, the winning proposal – whichever that might be – is certain to have a spectacular and lasting impact on the River Thames and London more broadly.
The competition is organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants. For more information about the brief and to see some stunning video representations of the six finalists' proposals, simply visit their website. Flick through the photos below to give you an idea of what to expect!