Six finalists from the U.K., U.S., and France are competing for a $24.8 million commission which will see their designs be used to illuminate all 17 bridges that span the River Thames in central London. Battling for the dazzling commission is David Adjaye, Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A), Sam Jacob Studio, and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands from London, along with New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Lyon-based practice Les Éclairagistes Associés.

Initially, 105 teams had entered the Illuminated River competition run by Malcolm Reading Consultants. The winners will see their lighting proposals realized as a permanent installation that aims to “breath new life” into the Thames. Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, Hannah Rothschild said on the competition’s website:

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. 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.

Despite waxing lyrical, Rothschild’s words did not impress critic Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian. “[It’s] simply not true. The river already shines with a series of conflicting color schemes that speaks more of London’s chaotic character than a curated nightly show,” he said. Wainwright also poured scorn on Adjaye’s proposal, remarking that the 17 pavilions the architect proposes alongside each of the bridges adds “more clutter to the streetscape.”

The project will be privately funded. So far, though, $11.8 million is still required. It’s also worth pointing out that the infamously costly (and not yet built) Garden Bridge by Thomas Heatherwick started life in a similar vein.

The shortlisted six’s videos can be found below meanwhile images are in the gallery above.

Blurring Boundaries
Adjaye Associates with Cai Guo-Qiang, Chris Ofili, Larry Bell, Jeremy Deller, Philippe Parreno, Richard Woods, Mariko Mori, Lorna Simpson, Teresita Fernández, Joana Vasconcelos, Angela Bulloch, Thukral & Tagra, Katharina Grosse, Glenn Ligon, Doug Aitken, Tomás Saraceno, onedotzero digital consultants, Plan A Consultants, DHA, Hurley Palmer Flatt, AKT II, AECOM, Arup, Sir Robert McAlpine, Tavernor Consultancy, DP9, Four Communications, Hayes Davidson digital visualizers, Bosch, and iGuzzini.


The Eternal Story of the River Thames
AL_A, Asif Kapadia, Simon Stephens, SEAM Design, Arup, GROSS. MAX., Mark Filip, Soundings, and DP9.



Synchronizing the City: Its Natural and Urban Rhythms
Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Oliver Beer, Arup, Copper Consultancy, L’Observatoire International, Penoyre & Prasad, Jennifer Tipton, and Transsolar.


Thames Nocturne
Sam Jacob Studio and Simon Heijdens with Studio Dekka, Daisy Froud, Elliott Wood, Jackson Coles, and Professor John Tyrer.


A River Ain’t Too Much To Light
Les Éclairagistes Associés (L.E.A.), ecqi ltd. and Federico Pietrella in association with GVA Lighting Europe Limited and ewo srl.


Current
Leo Villareal with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Future\Pace. Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine, Bradley Hemmings, Core Five, Futurecity, Greenwich +Docklands International Festival, MBNA Thames Clippers, Montagu Evans, Pentagram, and Price & Myers.


Winners are due to be announced in early December with work on the 17 bridges being completed in phases between 2018 and 2020.

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