Cannon Street railway bridge owned by Network Rail receives makeover as part of £45m artwork project: Cannon Street Bridge

Tuesday 30 Jul 2019

Cannon Street railway bridge owned by Network Rail receives makeover as part of £45m artwork project

Region & Route:
South East
  • Four of the Thames’s most famous bridges including Cannon Street have been transformed with the launch of the first phase of Illuminated River
  • An ambitious new art commission for London that will eventually see up to 15 bridges lit along the Thames

The project is the result of an unparalleled collaboration between London based and international creative talent, local authorities and partners including Network Rail.

Free to view, and accessible to all, Illuminated River is a symbol of London’s creativity, ambition and spirit. The artwork celebrates the architecture and heritage of London’s historic bridges and will encourage more people to enjoy the river and the riverside at night. Artwork for the first four bridges will be seen more than 60 million times each year by Londoners and visitors alike.

Cannon Street station also features digital posters along with floor displays which use QR codes to provide more information on the breath-taking project.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of Network Rail, said:

“Millions of rail passengers rely on London's beautiful and iconic bridges every day to get to and from places of work, education, health and leisure. The Illuminated River project will help highlight the vital role these bridges play in connecting our capital city.”

John Gill, Director of Business Development, Network Rail said:

“The Illuminated River Project has created a very special opportunity for Network Rail to do the right thing and showcase our responsibility in the community. I am proud to have been part of making this happen and seeing the huge transformation it has made to Cannon Street Railway Bridge”.

Conceived by internationally-acclaimed American artist Leo Villareal, and British architectural practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Illuminated River is a philanthropically-funded initiative supported by the Mayor of London and delivered by the Illuminated River Foundation. Working with seven different local authorities, Illuminated River is the biggest single planning application ever made without an act of Parliament. It is the first time the Thames bridges have been cohesively and artistically lit.

Four bridges – London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium – are now lit up in unison, with sequenced LED patterns subtly unfolding across each unique structure. Villareal’s artwork replaces outdated and inefficient lighting on the bridges, providing a more long-term sustainable solution for lighting the Thames. Designed by Atelier 10, the lighting will minimize 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.

Notes to Editors

Illuminated River has been developed in consultation and collaboration with over 50 organisations on and around the Thames, including the Port of London Authority, Historic England, Transport for London, Network Rail, London Wildlife Trust, the Zoological Society of London, Cross River Partnership, and seven local authorities (City of London, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, Southwark, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Wandsworth) who have granted 30 planning permissions and 18 listed building consents.

Site works for this first phase of the project began in January 2019; two years after the winning team was announced by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and closely following the granting of planning permission. The foundation is on track to complete phase two by Autumn 2020, which will include Blackfriars Road, Waterloo, Golden Jubilee Footbridges, Westminster and Lambeth bridges.

Once complete, Illuminated River will span from Albert Bridge in the west to Tower Bridge in the east. It will be the longest public art commission in the world at 2.5 miles in length, along 4.5 nautical miles of the River Thames, and will be viewed over a billion times during its 10-year lifespan.

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About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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