Gallery: Pylon of the Future: 6 Designs for an Advanced Electrical Grid

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.

+ Ian Ritchie Architects

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.

+ Bystrup

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.

+ Gustafson Porter


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  1. pylosaur September 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    watch out for a new Pylosaur coming soon. Pylosaurs

  2. thirtiespoet September 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I like Flower Tower and Cylindrical Pylon best

  3. CADstudent September 19, 2011 at 7:59 am

    None of these look like they would survive an ice storm like that of ’98.

  4. lazyreader September 16, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I agree our power towers in America could use a kick on the aesthetic side, on the other hand if we can just bury our wires underground why spend money needlessly trying to make utilitarian things look prettier. It would be probably less expensive to simply bury them and use decorative markers to determine where they are as to not damage them by future construction.

  5. artitectural September 16, 2011 at 3:14 am

    Furthermore, just google pylon design to see how ittle creativity has gone into the design. Very frustrating

  6. artitectural September 16, 2011 at 3:11 am

    I guess this competition shows how little we are prepared to lead forward when it comes to consolidated structures. You chance the shape but it stays the same.
    The competition referred to the FUTURE of energy distribution and it seems to me the to change one object for another does not really answer that question.

  7. Pylosaur September 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I was delighted to be informed by RIBA that my Rebel-Relic Pylosaur pylon was the runner up to the six finalists. I was also at the presentation at the V&A. My vote goes to the T pylon, it is as minimal as can be, practical, half the price of a regular pylon and is the only pylon created by specialist pylon designers. They are Danish and fun guys, they deserve to win. I was commissioned to design a clock for Lego so I love Denmark. The worst you can say is it’s dull but who cares, it’s a pylon not a diamond ring. However the T Pylon does lack maintenance gantries as do all the others so I guess any maintenance has to be done by crane or helicopter.

    I don’t think any of the others stand a chance of going into production on costs alone, in my view all are style over content and most seem to me to be incapable of mass-production, unless you want to risk going bankrupt trying. If you want a quick idea of what the brief was all about go to my site, it’s all there, easily explained and it is a fascinating brief.

    I’m not an architect but a product designer who has worked extensively with Disney, Warners, Hasbro and Mattel character merchandise and I hope it shows. Whatever else they are, Pylosaurs are the only killer pylons in the contest – check them out.

    Who knows what will actually be produced but pray that Pylosaurs aren’t unleashed to roam the Earth, they are far too dangerous and despite what you may think they actually encourage alien invasion. However they are as cheap as chips, assemble faster than an Ikea wardrobe without the need for a telescopic crane and are portable. You can’t buy them in B&Q yet but be warned, pet Pilosaurs are not just for Christmas.

  8. lieutenant September 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Dutch national electricity network operator TenneT has developed and already deployed new style electricity pylons (entitled Wintrack) that not only look great – but also create 60% smaller EM field.

    More info here:

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