Marks Barfield seeks sponsors for Olympic project to illuminate the banks of the river in central London

Architect Marks Barfield is in talks about a scheme to light up the River Thames for the 2012 Olympics, amid reports that it is cutting its ties with its most famous design, the London Eye.

Marks Barfield wants to place lights on both banks of the river through central London, illuminating the north and south banks, including the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.

Director David Marks said he hoped to get about 20 architects and artists to design the light patterns. Marks said: "I'm beginning to talk to people. The idea is something for the Olympics in 2012 - which, I think, would be an achievable target - using new, sustainable technology that lasts 10 years."

The firm is already talking to one potential sponsor about the idea. Marks said several sponsors would be needed, each funding a section of the walkway. He said: "I hope it could be a PPP, with some of the money coming from the public purse. This is not a commercial venture, but something that would be good for London."

The practice is hoping to talk to Transport for London, building owners and occupiers, local authorities and arts institutions about the scheme. Partner Julia Barfield added that they would be contacting London mayor Ken Livingstone.

Meanwhile the practice is reported to be in negotiations to sell its stake in the Eye to the Tussauds Group for up to £80m.

This is not a commercial venture, but something good for London

David Marks, Marks Barfield

Last year Tussauds paid £95m to buy out British Airways, the other one-third owner, giving it a two-thirds stake.

At the time, the architect accused BA of having gone behind its back and said it had been in talks with Tussauds to jointly acquire the stake from BA. The two sides have been locked in talks with lawyers since.

A spokesperson for the practice said Marks Barfield was not selling its stake but confirmed that negotiations were continuing between the two parties.

The Eye needs to draw on alternative revenues to ticket sales as it has a £175m debt.