One of the biggest hurdles to supplying greener and cleaner electricity around the world is an old and inefficient transmission grid infrastructure. Most of our transmission lines are sorely in need of an update - they rely on designs from the 1920s and cannot handle our demand for increased electricity. In May, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the National Grid in the UK launched a competition to design a better, more efficient pylon that could meet the needs of future generations while preserving the beauty of the countryside. Basically, they were calling for a nicer looking pylon than the steel lattice towers that we see today. Well, the results are in and here are the 6 shortlisted entries for your viewing pleasure.
Silhouette by Ian Ritchie Architects
This design doesn’t look like much, but that’s the point. The slender pole can appear as a tall black lance or as a thin sliver from a different angle. With a convex exterior skin that reflects its surroundings, the pylon will simply blend into the landscape.
The T-Pylon by Bystrup
The T-Pylon is a no-nonsense design with the aim of being slender, compact and efficient. The triangular configuration of the conductors should minimize the extent of the circuits and the magnetic fields and the tower can come in a wide variety of colors and finishes.
Flower Tower by Gustafson Porter
Flower Tower is inspired by nature and from the front appears as a bouquet of flowers or a tree with leaves. A group of ‘stems’ are bunched together creating a structural stiffness at the base and the power lines hang from the stems.
Pylon by AL_A and Arup
Responding to changes in topography, this graceful pylon marches across the landscape and leaves a strong impression of its form and shape. More than just a dynamic design though, AL_A’s pylon is designed for resilience and can adapt to changing conditions through expansion or contraction of its form.
Y Pylon by Knight Architects and Roughan & O’Donovan
The Y-shaped pylon has a clean aesthetic and easily recognizable form, as well as modern insulating materials to take this design into the future. The use of twin silicon rubber sheathed FRP arms allows significant reductions in overall tower height and in visual ‘clutter’.
Cylindrical Pylon by Newtown Studio
The only cylindrical design on the shortlist recalls the lattice tower design, but in a more compact shape. Transparency is the key to this design with the ultimate goal of seeming almost invisible to someone speeding by in a car or train.
What’s your favorite design? Be sure to comment on the competition’s website to cast your vote and help sway the judge’s opinions.