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A New York artist has won the competition to illuminate London's bridges

Written by
kyra hanson

Back in June, Sadiq Khan announced his plans for the Illuminated River Design Competition, a £20 million project to jazz up London's bridges. Well, drum roll please, as the winner – who had to beat off 105 submissions spread across 20 countries – has just been announced. American light artist Leo Villareal has the mammoth task of glitzing up all 17 of London's bridges.

The New Yorker was trusted with San Francisco's iconic Bay Bridge, which is now a permanent installation due to popular demand – so we think our city's bridges are in safe hands. 

Work kicks off next year, when the world-renowned light artist will be working in collaboration with British architects and urban planners Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. So, what's the grand plan? 

In a futuristic film on the project London Bridge pulsates with orange and red ribbons of light, Waterloo gets the pink treatment, Chelsea Bridge has a disco vibe going on, while the underside of Westminster Bridge has a subtle purple-y glow that reflects nicely in the water. 

Hannah Rothschild, Chair of the Illuminated River Foundation, said the scheme was 'beautiful, ambitious and realisable but always considerate to the environment, lighting levels and energy conservation'.

The 'artistically driven' lighting scheme stretches from Tower Bridge to Albert Bridge and will be permanent. But whether we end up loving or hating it, at least we aren't paying for it, as it will be entirely funded from private and philanthropic sources rather than the taxpayer's wallets. So that's one less thing for critics to moan about. 

© Leo Villareal and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands/Chris Gascoigne

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