ILLUMINATED RIVER

Competition

London

2016

DS+R’s shortlisted entry to this international competition, titled Synchronizing the City: its Natural and Urban Rhythms, includes an overarching master plan for lighting seventeen bridges over the River Thames, and a concept lighting design for four of the bridges. Synchronizing the City addresses the issue of urban dwellers who have become desensitized to natural cycles, like the setting of the sun and the ebb and flow of the tides. The design aims to realign the metabolism of the city with the lost pulses of nature at a time of day when nature and culture intertwine, and daylight submits to electric light. To mark this “Magic Hour” when the sky starts to dim, the bridges will slowly fill with light, like a vessel with liquid, until they are full at the end of “civil twilight” when they will be punctuated by a “Night Kiss”– a beam of light momentarily directed to the sky. The precise timing at each bridge will mark its geographical position and render the earth’s rotation visible while drawing the river’s meandering form in the sky. As chiming church bells once gathered villagers together, this lighting ceremony will celebrate a new form of urban collectivity.

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