Art and the railway – Illuminated River

Art and the railway – Illuminated River

Published 30 July 2019 | Average read time
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Bridges over the River Thames have joined a raft of art projects supported by Network Rail across Britain.

Illuminated River – an ambitious new art installation for London – has transformed four bridges in the capital, including Cannon Street Railway Bridge, providing better and more environmentally friendly links for the public.

Network Rail has backed the project, which launched in collaboration between London-based and international creative talent and local authorities.

Illuminated River is free to view and accessible to all, and will eventually light up to 15 bridges along the Thames.

It celebrates the architecture and heritage of London’s historic bridges and will encourage more people to enjoy the river and the riverside at night.

The artwork replaces outdated and inefficient lighting on the bridges, providing a more long-term sustainable solution for lighting the Thames.

Illuminated River is a philanthropically-funded initiative supported by the Mayor of London and delivered by the Illuminated River Foundation.

Internationally-acclaimed American artist Leo Villareal and British architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands conceived the project, which works with seven local authorities.

Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Cannon Street railway station near London Bridge station

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It’s the biggest single planning application ever made without an Act of Parliament and is the first time the Thames bridges have been cohesively and artistically lit.

Four bridges – London Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Millennium Bridge – are now lit up in unison, with sequenced LED patterns subtly unfolding across each unique structure.

Designed by Atelier 10, the lighting will minimise direct light spill onto the river and reduce energy consumption. While the former lighting ran all night, from dusk to dawn, Illuminated River’s connected LED lighting from Signify (formerly Philip’s Lighting) will be switched off at 2am. The new artwork will be in place for at least 10 years.

Sir John Hawkshaw, who designed Cannon Street railway station and the Severn Tunnel, designed Cannon Street Railway Bridge, which carries trains from Cannon Street station across the Thames.

Click on the gallery: Jimmy C, Gabriella Marcella and Alison Cooke are among the many artists Network Rail has supported in recent years. Find out more.