Londoners will see the Thames in a whole new light beginning this summer. In a collaboration between British architecture firm Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS) and U.S. artist Leo Villareal, up to 15 London bridges—including UNESCO World Heritage sites—will be outfitted with an array of new lighting for at least the next decade. The project, called Illuminated River, will highlight the bridges' unique sculptural and environmental qualities, breathe new life into urban spaces, and connect communities all along the waterway. This summer, Illuminated River will begin with four bridges—Southwark, Cannon Street, London and Millennium bridges—getting lit up. The massive installation will continue to be built over the next few years, with a further section to be completed in 2020, and an aimed completion date of 2022. The collaboration between artist and architect was natural, said LDS’s Alex Lifschutz in a statement. “Architects collaborate with many different species of being. Indeed, architects are many species of being,” he said. Villareal, who has previously illuminated bridges like San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, felt similarly. “We rely on each other’s views to achieve this great ambition," Villareal said. "The collaboration is so far a success because it is based on trust and the respect of one another’s expertise and unique vision.” The architects and artist worked together to use the latest in LED technology, along with custom software, to outfit the bridges to produce an effect that is, according to Villarreal, “gently kinetic.” While, Lifschutz pointed out, there's been a “huge revolution” in LED technology—in terms of efficiency, scalability, cost, color, control, and other attributes—in the wrong hands LED fittings are “a very potent destructive mechanism.” Lifschutz explained: “LED fittings are maybe five times more efficient than standard fittings. People have thought, ‘Well, that's fantastic. We'll save a lot of energy and the world will be all the better for it. And climate change will be that much further away.’ The unintended consequence of this high efficiency is that people use more of them. And the world has become brighter and jazzier as a result, which is a great shame." LDS and Villareal's answer is to use light “very judicially.” The architects and artist did a huge number of studies using the latest laser techniques. While the top surfaces of bridges are “straightforward,” the undersides—with all their supports and trusses—are “incredibly interesting and abstract,” said Lifschutz. “Each bridge has its own character,” he said. "It's like having 15 children—not that I do—but each one has a different character and each one deserve a different way of talking about it, of dealing with it.” They considered how to light the bridge as both a piece of art and architecture, working where the two intersected to manage the relationship between structure, form, and function in order find the best places to provide light and fix fittings, all while not affecting the structure, especially on the “very precious bridges.” “Both [Villareal and I] have a technical background in the color of light, the spread of light, the way in which light falls on surfaces, and the kinds of fittings or kinds of technical fittings that are available to make the magic happen,” explained Lifschutz. “And light is very magical, obviously.” Additionally, the river is not only a site of architectural life and preservation, but also of ecological vibrancy and conservation. The team had to do a number of ecological studies, some reportedly more thorough and substantive than those that had been done before, and research the effect of light on the creatures living in the Thames. “If you have a line of light that lies across the water, fish generally don't like to cross that,” explained Lifschutz. “It may affect spawning patterns in the shoreline and so on.” In their research, they discovered much of the existing lighting on London’s bridges was already detrimental to wildlife. “[The lighting] is spraying light everywhere; it’s the wrong color.” Many naturally uncommon colors and color temperatures—many of which are currently in use before the team’s intervention—negatively affect the wildlife swimming below. The competition to develop the river project was supported by the office of Mayor Sadiq Khan, received over 105 entries, and was done in collaboration with over 100 local organizations on and around the river. It required numerous approvals to work with listed structures. The local groups have "mostly been hugely enthusiastic,” reported Lifschutz. And it is apt that the project is titled Illuminated River—working at a scale Lifschutz calls “epic,” there will be integration across all 15 bridges to create a cohesive, unified effect and artwork “painting with light,” as Villareal put it, across the whole of London’s main waterway. “We hope Illuminated River will open up the riverside public realm spaces for people to linger, appreciate the enhanced architecture of the bridges, cultivate new opportunities, and encourage tourists to come to London and enjoy nightlife activities,” said Villareal. “It will celebrate the unique character and the amazing landmarks of the city through art.”
Posts tagged with "Leo Villareal":
For the second year, San Francisco Travel (the city's marketing organization) is organizing Illuminate SF, a two-month series of light art installations around the metropolis. This year's version, taking place now through the end of the year, features 16 glowing pieces—11 of them permanent—including works by James Turrell, Ned Kahn,Vito Acconci, and James Carpenter. Many are integrated into San Francisco buildings, such as Morphosis' San Francisco Federal Building, KMD's SF Public Utilities Commission, the grain elevator at Pier 92, and various terminals at SFO. Cities like Cleveland and New York have held similar festivals in recent years. The San Francisco event includes the return of Leo Villareal's Bay Lights, the world's largest LED light sculpture covering the Oakland Bay Bridge's 1.8-mile-long West Span. Soma, by Flaming Lotus Girls, was originally displayed at Burning Man, and will be illuminated every night from sunset until 2:00 a.m. Accompanying events for Illuminate SF include film screenings, art walks, tours, light shows, Christmas Tree lightings, and even parades. Enjoy a slideshow of the phenomenal installations below.
Lighting artist Leo Villareal has been busy lately, opening installations in the New York City subway system and in Madison Square Park, but an even bigger achievement is set to debut tonight in San Francisco. Villareal has attached 25,000 LED lights to the San Francisco Bay Bridge and connected them to a computer in order to create dazzling lighting displays viewable from the city and the water along the suspension bridge. Called The Bay Lights, the project celebrates the bridge's 75th anniversary and is set to go live tonight at 8:30 PST. But don't worry, if you're not in San Francisco to view the installation from the Embarcadero or Telegraph Hill, the event will be streamed live online at the project's website here. Until then, check out a couple videos below of the installation being tested. The Bay Lights is believed to be the largest of its type in the world and will be in San Francisco for two years, lit each night from dusk till 2:00a.m. [h/t to WNYC and Inhabitat for the videos.]
New York-based artist Leo Villareal is creatively illuminating the constructed form. In Madison Square Park, Villareal's LED light-up geodesic dome, Buckyball, stands tall, undamaged but unlit after Hurricane Sandy. The Madison Square Park Conservancy told AN that the lights are expected to be back on tonight. And soon, Villareal also plans to light-up a far larger construction on the West coast: the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The 30-foot tall Buckyball consists of two nested spheres created by a series of adjoining pentagons and hexagons resting atop a large platform. Each sphere is built using LED tube lights over a metal frame. Random mathematical sequencing allows the tubes to change color and create over 16 million different shades across the geometric sculpture. The spheres will be on view in Madison Square Park through February 1, 2013 and is typically lit up from dusk till dawn. The sculpture was powered down during the recent storms. Meanwhile, Villareal is also working on his next project titled The Bay Lights. This light installation will cover the San Francisco Bay Bridge, creating light patterns visible to residents on either side. Meant to celebrate the bridge's anticipated 2013 East Span completion, 25,000 white LED lights will be placed along its 1.8 mile span and climb up the 500-foot high steel cables. Shifting light patterns will be displayed from dusk until midnight for two years, visible from afar but hidden from crossing drivers. The grand lighting scheme is planned to open in early 2013.
Video rendering of the Bay Lights (courtesy TBL) “What if the West Span [of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge] wasn't a bridge and instead were a canvas?” asked Ben Davis, founder of creative agency Words Pictures Ideas and man behind the The Bay Lights (TBL) some time ago. That question soon became the foundation for San Francisco’s latest high-tech public art project that’s got even Silicon Valley abuzz. With the support of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and major Silicon Valley bigwigs, TBL is planning to put up an ethereal light show 1.5 miles wide and 230 feet high covering the west span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. “The Bay Bridge slipped into her sexy sister's shadow and silently slogged for nearly 75 years. With her diamond anniversary upon us, I wanted to give the gray lady a moment to sparkle again,” said Davis. Developed by American artist Leo Villareal, the installation, targeted to start at the end of this year, definitely won't lack sparkle. The project comprises 25,000 individually programmable LED lights set to produce abstract patterns inspired by the bridge's surroundings. When finished, the two-year light show will be seven times the scale of the Eiffel Tower’s 100th anniversary lighting display. Not to worry though, motorists, no need for sunglasses while driving at night; Davis said the LEDs will be set one foot apart and “placed on the outside of the two-and-a-quarter inch vertical suspension cables, facing away from drivers,” effectively making them invisible to the bridge’s commuters. But before the Golden Gate gets its silvery sister, TBL needs to raise $1.8 million by July 1. The project has already raised $5.2 million in gifts and pledges thanks in part to a Tech Challenge it launched last May. High-tech investors include angel investor Ron Conway, tech investor Adam Gross, and Wordpress Founder Matt Mullenweg. If you want to add to the pot, support the project on Causes.