River Thames, London


The Illuminated River project was developed through a collaboration between the Rothschild Foundation, the Mayor of London and a large number of stakeholders along the Thames.  Once complete, this will be the longest permanent public art commission in the world at 2.5 miles in length.


The Illuminated River will be a design commission on an unprecedented scale: a scheme to light central London’s bridges along the River Thames. The project is being managed by a new charity, the Illuminated River Foundation.


An international design competition was held in 2016 to find the best creative responses for lighting Central London’s bridges. The winning submission, by US artist Leo Villareal and British architects, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS), will be a kinetic lighting artwork that will unify and illuminate the bridges for 20 years.


The project will encompass all the bridges from Albert to Tower Bridge but will be phased so that installations on the groups of bridges will be grouped from 2019 to 2022.

The Challenge

The challenge with The Illuminated River Foundation (IRF) was not only technical but also practical. 


Each bridge has two nodes which control the illuminated artwork, these, in turn, connect to a master node located offsite.  Each bridge needs the ability to connect to one another, the master node and break out to the Internet for remote connectivity to the artist and his team.

Soniza created a strategy which investigated the possibility of utilising 4G, IoT, ADSL, Ethernet or Satellite.

The challenge would be not only, what technology but can suppliers get their connectivity to a comms room, under a major concrete structure, in the centre of London, next to a river.

Since a project of this scale and size has never been attempted before, the solution also had to be flexible as the artwork application was still being written and wouldn’t be finished by the time of selecting the preferred network supplier.  This meant that bandwidth requirements were theoretical and so required flexibility.

Moving People
Crossrail Place Roof Garden

The Solution

Soniza ran workshops with the IRF, the artists' team and the architects to understand what their functional requirements were and the physical limitations of each installation.

Soniza created a strategy which mapped a route to each bridge overlaying supplier networks, taking into consideration the composite of each bridge, budgetary constraints and security requirements.  After careful consideration and discussions with the IRF, the architects and artists, it was agreed that an IP VPN solution would offer a secure and reliable network, with the least ambiguity regarding latency.


Soniza created a Request for Proposal (RFP) document requesting details of a company profile, how the supplier would meet the requirements, how they would implement a solution into difficult locations and how they would maintain the solution, potentially for as long as 10 years.

Soniza managed the procurement process which included a number of workshops with each supplier, so they could understand what the project was trying to achieve and be clear about the constraints of the project.


RFP’s were sent to six suppliers, and responses were evaluated.  Two suppliers were short-listed, and presentations were requested.  Following further clarification and evaluation, the client selected their preferred supplier with guidance from Soniza.

The Outcome

The outcome of the project has meant that the IRF have a dependable supplier to work with, agreeable flexibility in their commercial terms and an extensive metropolitan network to rely on throughout the next 10+ years.

Soniza offered the IRF honesty, extensive knowledge of the telecoms market and auditable processes which achieved the right outcome for the Foundation.

Client Comment:

“Soniza has supported the Illuminated River Foundation with developing a network strategy and then leading an external tender process to identify the best network partner to help deliver this complex project. We’ve been impressed by the proactive and flexible approach taken by Soniza, their expertise and responsiveness – we’d certainly recommend them to others and look forward to working with Soniza again as the project progresses."


Richard Dye, Finance Director, The Illuminated River Foundation