- 105 teams (made up of 346 individual firms) entered the competition with nearly half the submissions coming from overseas
- Six shortlisted teams will now create concept design lighting schemes for London’s famous bridges
- Finalist teams include celebrated and emerging artists and architects and feature international collaborations
- Artists James Turrell and Sir Michael Craig-Martin, together with former Serpentine Gallery Director Dame Julia Peyton-Jones and co-founder of Second Home, Rohan Silva, will complete the jury
Design teams from around the world have entered a competition for a permanent light installation to breathe new life into the Thames, showing that London remains a world class leader for art, design and innovation.
The Illuminated River Foundation announced today [September 5, 2016] that the first stage of the Illuminated River International Design Competition, backed by the Mayor of London and the Rothschild Foundation, attracted 105 team submissions from around the world.
Forty-seven per cent of the teams came from overseas, demonstrating that London remains a top destination for international designers, artists, engineers and technologists post-Brexit.
No design was sought at the first stage, rather competitors made submissions based on experience, past projects and team composition. Six finalists will now go on to develop concept design lighting schemes for four bridges – Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea – along with a design masterplan for all the 17 celebrated bridges between Albert and Tower.
The teams’ design challenge is to create an elegant and charismatic light installation that will be forward-thinking and environmentally-friendly, enhancing the capital’s status as a low carbon beacon and a world leader in cutting edge technology and engineering.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
This competition is a really exciting opportunity – the shortlisted design teams will now have their work showcased in a world class cultural city. It’s fantastic that submissions have come from so many different countries: the competition shows that London is open to talent from all around the globe.
The Illuminated River will breathe new life into the Thames and create a dazzling outdoor gallery for Londoners to enjoy each night, showing that our capital remains a leader in innovation, sustainability and artistic creativity. I wish all the finalists luck in the next stage of the competition, and look forward to seeing the ideas they come up with.
Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, said:
The response to the Illuminated River competition was extraordinary and humbling: more than 100 teams entered the competition, including some of the leading international names in design, lighting, technical and the arts.
The final shortlist represents an exhilarating mix of talent, inspiration and design approach. In November the finalists’ concept designs will be unveiled, and London will have six possible visions of how the river and the city might be transformed after dark.
The six finalist teams (in alphabetical order) are :
- Adjaye Associates with Chris Ofili, Thukral & Tagra, Doug Aitken, AKTII, HPF (Hurley Palmer Flatt), Four Communications, DP9, Plan A and DHA Designs
- AL_A with Asif Kapadia, Simon Stephens, SEAM Design and GROSS.MAX
- Diller Scofidio + Renfro with L’Observatoire International, Arup, Transsolar, Jennifer Tipton and Oliver Beer
- Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi, ewo, Federico Pietrella, and GVA Lighting Europe Limited
- Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with Future\Pace, Leo Villareal, Pentagram, Price & Myers, Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine and Core Five
- Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens with Electrolight, Daisy Froud and Elliott Wood
Malcolm Reading, Competition Organiser, said:
The combination of London’s emblematic river, the Foundation’s inspired vision, and support from London’s most notable civic stakeholders has attracted competitors from diverse cultural backgrounds.
This shortlist brims with promise: these teams are at the intersection of art, architecture, technology, engineering, film and literature. They have put together fascinating combinations of skills and we expect great things of them.
Notable contemporary artists featuring on the six finalist teams include:
- Chris Ofili, a British Turner Prize-winning painter who represented Britain at the 2003 Venice Biennale in collaboration with David Adjaye
- Asif Kapadia, a British BAFTA, Cannes and Oscar-winning director whose most notable works are the documentaries Amy and Senna
- Jennifer Tipton, a MacArthur Fellow who is regarded as one of the most versatile designers for theatre and performance lighting
- Federico Pietrella, an Italian artist who has developed a unique style using a rubber date stamp and blue ink as his medium of choice
- Leo Villareal, the American sculptor and installation artist responsible for The Bay Lights, a public light installation on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
- Simon Heijdens, a Dutch installation artist whose works have been installed and exhibited in over 50 public spaces worldwide, including the permanent collections of MoMA, the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, and the Art Institute of Chicago
Concept designs will go on display to the public in November, in London and online.
The Illuminated River Foundation also released details of new jurors who will complete the international competition jury:
- Michael Craig-Martin, conceptual artist
- Dame Julia Peyton-Jones DBE, Director Serpentine Galleries 1991-2016
- Rohan Silva, co-founder at Second Home
- James Turrell (honorary member), space and light artist
They join previously-announced jurors: Lord Rothschild OM GBE, Chairman of RIT Capital Partners plc, Chairman of the Rothschild Foundation, philanthropist, notably in the arts, and the Rothschild family member responsible for Waddesdon Manor; Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, writer, filmmaker and Chair of the National Gallery Board of Trustees; Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, City Hall; Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery; Professor Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies and Director, LSE Cities and Urban Age; and Lucy Musgrave, Director, Publica. The jury will be advised by the Competition Director, Malcolm Reading.
The Illuminated River project will provide London with a new, free permanent attraction and is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders including the Mayor of London, the City of London, Westminster City Council, Transport for London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Network Rail. Around £20m in funds will be raised, largely from private sources by the Illuminated River Foundation, the coordinating charity which is supported by the Rothschild Foundation.
It is anticipated that jury interviews with the shortlisted practices will take place in late November 2016, with the winner announced in early December.
For further updates, please visit the competition website.
Notes to Editors
The Illuminated River International Design Competition
The competition is funded through a grant of £250,000 from the Rothschild Foundation and £250,000 from the Mayor of London. The City of London has also pledged £500,000 towards the realisation of later stages of the project.
The City of London Corporation’s Bridge House Estate is providing £500,000 towards improvements on London Bridge, which will help realise the project. The City of London Corporation supports and promotes the City as a world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in, and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation. These include the Barbican Centre, Barbican Music Library, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Library, Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre, five Thames bridges (including Tower Bridge and Millennium Bridge), London Metropolitan Archives, a range of education provision (including three City Academies); Central Criminal Court at Old Bailey, over 10,000 acres of open spaces (including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest), and three wholesale food markets. The City of London Corporation is London’s Port Health Authority and also runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow. For more details, visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
This two-stage competition is being run in accordance with EU procurement guidelines and the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. The competition has been advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The first stage closed on July 7, 2016. The competition is organised by London-based international competition specialists Malcolm Reading Consultants.
Information on shortlisted teams
Adjaye Associates with Chris Ofili, Thukral & Tagra, Doug Aitken, AKTII, HPF (Hurley Palmer Flatt), Four Communications, DP9, Plan A and DHA Designs.
Adjaye Associates was established in June 2000 by founder and principal architect, David Adjaye OBE. Named Building Design’s International Breakthrough Architect of the Year 2013 and receiving ever-increasing worldwide attention, the firm has offices in London, New York and Accra and completed works in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Two of the practice’s largest commissions to date are the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the Moscow School of Management (SKOLKOVO). Further projects range in scale from private houses, exhibitions, and temporary pavilions to major arts centres, civic buildings, and masterplans. Renowned for an eclectic material and colour palette and a capacity to offer a rich civic experience, the buildings differ in form and style, yet are unified by their ability to generate new typologies and to reference a wide cultural discourse.
AL_A with Asif Kapadia, Simon Stephens, SEAM Design and GROSS. MAX.
The team is composed of the architects AL_A, filmmaker Asif Kapadia, playwright Simon Stephens, lighting designers SEAM, and landscape architects GROSS. MAX.
We are a group of people who tell stories through our work and will use our expertise to shed light on the multiple lives and identities of London in new ways with light and water.
AL_A was founded in 2009 by the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete, with commissions including the highly anticipated expansion of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Asif Kapadia is a film maker and the director of “Senna” and “Amy”, which won the BAFTA for Best Documentary, a Grammy for Best Music Film and the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Simon Stephens is a playwright who has written over twenty plays that have been produced throughout the world and translated into over thirty languages. His plays have won many awards including a Tony Award and two Olivier Awards for Best New Play.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro with L’Observatoire International, Arup, Transsolar, Jennifer Tipton and Oliver Beer
Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an art and architecture studio dedicated to improving cities, rethinking conventions of everyday space, and democratizing space for public use. The studio is best known for two of the most significant planning initiatives in New York: the High Line, a one-and-a-half mile elevated stretch of obsolete industrial infrastructure transformed into a linear park; and the redesign of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts campus, which includes the Juilliard School, Alice Tully Hall, the School of American Ballet, public spaces and surrounding streets. Recently completed projects include The Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles as well as the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Recent art installations include ‘Exit’ at the Palais-de-Tokyo and ‘Musings on a Glass Box’ at the Cartier Foundation, both in Paris. The Illuminated River team includes L’Observatoire International, Arup, Transsolar, Jennifer Tipton, and Oliver Beer.
Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi, ewo, Federico Pietrella and GVA Lighting Europe
The Thames’ Banks are the night watch of the neighbourhood, a testimony to the permanence of the city. Les Éclairagistes Associés (LEA), ecqi, ewo, Federico Pietrella and GVA Lighting Europe Limited are committed to urban and architectural design. Together, they will form a cross-disciplinary and unconventional consortium of artists and engineers, a team dedicated to reveal at night what diversity these bridges can tell about their history. Their aim is to accompany the bridges with light, and certainly not create artificial and unlinked shades and colours along the Thames.
The team have a great experience in bridge lighting, notably the Wilson Bridge in Lyon and Caille Bridges in Cruseilles, ‘a peculiar subject that must be as well designed as engineered, giving a simple yet powerful idea the best possible technical response’.
Their motto: ‘from function to animation – active, interactive lighting so as to involve citizens’.
Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with Future\Pace, Leo Villareal, Pentagram, Price & Myers, Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine and Core Five.
The Illuminated River requires a delivery team with world-class artistic credentials and technical experience in equal measure. London is the cultural world leader, powered by the spectacular and experimental, and our team can create the right conditions for supporting this extraordinary project to Illuminate the Thames.
Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS) is an award-winning practice of architects, masterplanners and urban designers founded in 1986. LDS is in the unique position of having designed two London bridges: the Royal Victoria Dock Bridge and the Hungerford Footbridges. LDS was RIBA London Architect of the Year 2015 and has won over 70 design awards.
Future\Pace is a partnership established in 2016 between Futurecity, the international cultural placemaking agency, and Pace, a leading contemporary art gallery. The collaboration forms a ‘gallery without walls’ for the city, representing a global network of interdisciplinary artists working at scale across architecture, engineering, literature, science and technology.
Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens, Electrolight, Daisy Froud and Elliott Wood
Sam Jacob Studio (SJS) is an internationally-recognised architecture and design office known for its innovative and rigorous projects. For the Illuminated River competition, SJS has partnered with designer Simon Heijdens and lighting designers Electrolight. Heijden’s, known for his interactive installations combining nature with technology, brings a vision of how digital tools can help us engage with our surroundings. Electrolight bring a technical expertise in large scale urban lighting projects with high design ambitions.
Supported by consultation expert Daisy Froud and engineers Elliott Wood, the team’s approach will explore the creative potential of light to create a fluid choreography navigating the relationship of the river to the city. It is an approach that recognises the Thames as a huge ‘urban object’, as a liquid geography, a historical and social document and as a distinct ecology within the fabric of London’s built environment.
Illuminated River Foundation
The Illuminated River Foundation was established in 2016 to procure and oversee the Illuminated River project. The charity’s core project is the creation of public art through light on London’s bridges. The Foundation’s mission is to celebrate London’s famous river: enhancing some of the capital’s less well-used public spaces and improving and enlivening the atmosphere of the river on winter afternoons and after dark.
The Illuminated River is anticipated to be one of the most ambitious public art initiatives in Europe in recent years. It will provide London with a new, free attraction focused on 17 of its celebrated and very individual bridges; help to sustain London’s momentum as one of the most creative and innovative global cities; provide the opportunity for growing London’s night time economy and, through the use of new technologies, support London’s move toward low-carbon, sustainable and green solutions.
In parallel, the charity will work to engage the public in the initiative and the concepts behind it through a variety of education and engagement activities; see the Foundation’s website (below) for details as these are announced.
The funds for this circa £20m project will be raised, largely from private sources, by the Illuminated River Foundation, backed by the Rothschild Foundation and working in collaboration with other stakeholders. Following the competition and the detailed design stage, the funds will be granted, along with the design, to the relevant organisations which manage or own the bridges.
The 17 bridges within the scope of the project are: Albert Bridge, Chelsea Bridge, Grosvenor Railway Bridge, Nine Elms (planned), Vauxhall Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Footbridges, Waterloo Bridge, Garden Bridge (planned), Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars Railway Bridge, Millennium Footbridge, Southwark Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.
Malcolm Reading Consultants
Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic consultancy specialising in the selection of contemporary designers. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration – either at the local level, or internationally.
MRC is the leading specialist in design competitions in Europe. Recent work includes competitions for the Royal College of Art, the Museum of London, the gold medal-winning UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, Tintagel Castle Bridge, the Mumbai City Museum, the Natural History Museum and New College, Oxford.