Artist: Leo Villareal
Partners: Atelier Ten, Beckett Rankine, Bradley Hemmings, Core Five, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Montagu Evans, Pentagram, Price & Myers Location: London
Services: Art in the Public Realm, Cultural Placemaking, Embedded Arts

FuturePace, the pioneering curatorial partnership between Futurecity and Pace Gallery, joins Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands Architects and artist Leo Villareal in the winning team for The Illuminated River Competition.

The Illuminated River is an art and architecture commission of unprecedented scale: a unified artwork conceived to light central London’s bridges along the River Thames. The full team includes  PentagramPrice and MyersAtelier TenBeckett RankineBradley HemmingsMontagu Evans, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival and Core Five.

Leo Villareal’s vision for the The Illuminated River was selected by an interdisciplinary panel from 105 teams worldwide and some of world’s top names in architecture and contemporary art.

Announcing the results of the competition, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “We saw an incredible response to this fascinating competition, showing that London continues to inspire creatives from around the globe, and is open to all. There were some spectacular ideas, and I can’t wait to see the winning design light up the Thames.”

The winning entry presents a transformational artwork, in three stages, designed to enliven the Thames using dynamic light. Villareal’s ambitious composition integrates light and colour on the seventeen bridges, from Tower Bridge to Albert Bridge, creating a sensitive, interactive and site-specific interplay with the river.

Leo Villareal said: “I’m delighted and humbled by the fact that the jury went with an artistically-driven vision for the Illuminated River. The whole team shares a belief in the power of large-scale public culture and art to enrich our cities. We are deeply committed to this project. In order to nuance the concept design and create presence and legibility, we intend to take time to study the river in all its manifestations.

We want to listen to Londoners in developing the scheme to deliver at all levels of art and light, urban design and architecture, the environment and sustainability. Our aim is for a lighting masterplan which reduces pollution and wasted energy, is sensitive to history and ecology and subtly rebalances the ambient lighting on the river to provide a beautiful night time experience for residents and visitors.”

Having already announced pledges totalling £10 million in November, the Illuminated River Foundation will now raise the remaining funds for the cost of the project from private and philanthropic sources.

The winning team will now start to develop the design concepts in collaboration with stakeholders and partners along the river, and in consultation with the public. This work will take place in 2017.

See further detail on our news page here.

the artist

Leo Villareal

Leo Villareal (b. 1967, Albuquerque, New Mexico) creates intricate light installations for both gallery and public settings. The New York-based artist works with neon, strobe, and LED lights that perform elaborate choreographies.

"The Illuminated River will breathe new life into the Thames and create a dazzling outdoor gallery for Londoners to enjoy each night."

Sadiq Khan | Mayor of London


+44 (0)20 7407 0500 71 Central St, London, EC1V 8AB


+44 (0)1223 403364 Cambridge Junction, Clifton Way,
Cambridge CB1 7GX


+61 (0)449 637 273 17-19 O’ Connor St, Chippendale, NSW 2008