By Rowan Moore
Plans are afoot to make the Thames ‘world-class' by lighting up its bridges. But will that, along with the huge building projects along its banks, really enhance London – or just reinforce the perception of the capital as a glittering bubble?
Early next month the mayor of London will announce the winner of the competition to find the designers of the Illuminated River, a £20m project to create a permanent “world-class lighting scheme” over 17 bridges in central London. The Kinks' “dirty old river”, TS Eliot's “sweet Thames”, the waterway rhapsodised by Wordsworth and given a Venetian sparkle by Canaletto, old Father Thames himself will, depending on the choice of winner, be arrayed with patterns like a Hawaiian shirt, or disco hues of orange and purple, or lights that switch on and off in response to its tidal pulse, as if he were wearing the world's biggest Fitbit.
To the casual observer, the Thames looks quite all right already – to be precise, absolutely stonkingly wonderful