The Illuminated River Competition

The Illuminated River Project is a scheme created with the aim of lighting the bridges of central London from the Albert Bridge down to Tower Bridge, with it comes the Illuminated River Design Competition which was launched in June 2016. The competition gives designers the opportunity to create a concept light design for four bridges – Chelsea, London, Waterloo and Westminster. Six teams have been shortlisted out of over a hundred entries from twenty different countries.

Malcolm Reading approached us at Vertex Modelling on behalf of The Illuminated River Foundation, requesting to use our London 3D model as part of the design project. The entrants would all be provided with a digital version of our London city model in order to create their concept designs. We were really honoured to be involved in this project and to see our model used in such a creative way.

Hannah Rothschild, who is a film-maker and writer, came up with this idea, believing that the Thames was once the “beating heart” of London but now is not such a prominent feature as it descends into a “ribbon of darkness” despite London’s active nightlife.

“The river’s name derives from the Celtic word tamesas, which means dark, and sadly this is what happens to our river at night time. This important and beautiful artery becomes a river of darkness, a place that few can enjoy… Imagine going to Paris or Rome and not being able to walk alongside the Seine or the Tiber. Imagine New York without the Brooklyn Bridge lit up. And what would Londoners think if St Paul’s or the Houses of Parliament or the National Gallery were dark most of the time? The Thames is our liquid history and we must reclaim it.”

Rothschild’s dream for the project is that it will not be paid for with taxpayers’ money, but that the £20m predicted cost should come from generous donations. Half has already been raised, with £5m coming from Rothschild Foundation and £5m from Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin of the Arcadia Fund.

Today we were invited to attend the reveal of all of the designs and we were able to see the amazing entries from the designers. The shortlisted projects come from: the firms of David Adjaye and Amanda Levete, the design studio of Diller Scofidio, the artist Leo Villareal, Les Eclairagistes Associes, and Sam Jacob’s Studio.  The winning design will be decided by a panel of 11 and is to be announced on 9 December and is scheduled for installation in 2018 depending on funding and permissions.

The design exhibition is open for viewing at Royal Festival Hall from 9-29 November 10am-10pm every day.

More info at

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Detailed 3D Models