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Thu May 28 2020

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FM Conway to light up the Thames

15 Jan 19 Civil engineering contractor FM Conway is more closely associated with filling potholes than delivering great works of art, but is has been commissioned to install one of London’s largest ever art projects.

Indicative image of the Illuminated River ©, Leo Villareal Studio
Indicative image of the Illuminated River ©, Leo Villareal Studio

The Illuminated River project is a major art commission for the capital’s bridges and FM Conway has been contracted to install the first phase.

Designed by artist Leo Villareal and architect Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Illuminated River sets out to celebrate the River Thames through the installation of a lighting artwork on up to 15 London bridges, from Albert to Tower Bridge.  Once completed, the installation – which will span 4.5 nautical miles of the River Thames – will be the longest public art commission in the world.    

Neil Mendoza, chair of the board of trustees at the Illuminated River Foundation, said: “The Illuminated River project will be an art commission on an unprecedented scale – using light to boost connectivity, economic activity and public enjoyment of the city at night, whilst improving conditions for the natural environment in and alongside the river.”

FM Conway has been awarded the contract for the first phase of the project, installing lighting on London, Southwark, Cannon Street Railway and Millennium bridges.  FM Conway will work with the Illuminated River Foundation, the charitable organisation set up to deliver the project.  Initial works will begin on these first four bridges in early 2019, with completion scheduled for summer 2019.  

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FM Conway previously installed a colour-changing LED lighting system on seven of the capital’s bridges for the 2012 Olympic Games.  Through its long-term highways contract with more than half of London’s boroughs, FM Conway looks after more than 850 bridges and highways structures across the capital and up to 150,000 lights. 

Ed Barford, head of structures at FM Conway, said: “This project brings together our expertise in lighting and structures to help deliver a unique artwork for the capital.  The bridges across the River Thames are integral to how Londoners and visitors alike identify with, and travel through, the city and we are looking forward to working with the Illuminated River Foundation to deliver such an exciting project.

“This first phase will see FM Conway light up four of the capital’s best-known bridges, setting the standard for the rest of the initiative.”

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