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RIBA launches pylon design competition

May 23 2011

RIBA launches pylon design competition
Regimented lines of ungainly grey steel marching across the British countryside have become a universal presence since their introduction in 1927 but there design has changed little.

That could soon change however as the Department of energy and climate change have teamed up with the RIBA to launch a competition to redesign the spindly towers in advance of a fresh round of investment in new infrastructure.

The judging panel will be chaired by energy secretary Chris Huhne, who is defining the competition as a “blank canvas”

Huhne said: “There are limits to what we can do with undergrounding and that means we have got to get the overground cables looking as attractive, as beautiful and having as little impact on our natural environment as we possibly can."

It follows plans from US based architects Choi + Shine to transform Iceland’s transmission network with a “Land of Giants” plan to introduce a new generation of figurative concrete, steel and glass pylons.

£10k will be awarded to the winning entry with the National Grid stating that they will consider developing the designs for future projects such as the 137 mile Beauly to Denny link.

A competition deadline has been set for July 12 at 14:00.


Spelling Bee
#1 Posted by Spelling Bee on 23 May 2011 at 13:29 PM
...tut tut
Roger Smith
#2 Posted by Roger Smith on 24 May 2011 at 23:04 PM
Oh yes, fantastic idea, lets redesign those wonderfully brutal pylons with their abstract air of giants marching across the landscape. Lets redesign them as literally giant human forms prancing across our countryside. Yes. That's brilliant...
Colin O’Donoghue
#3 Posted by Colin O’Donoghue on 21 Sep 2011 at 18:57 PM
The brief was for a 400 kilovolt pylon.

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 bet is the Plexus will win but my vote goes to the T pylon, it is minimal, practical, half the price of a regular pylon and is the only pylon created by specialist pylon designers. 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 so none will go into production as they are. The fat lady hasn’t started to sing yet and I have a Pterodactyl Pylosaur in the wings, designed to be cheapest, smallest with proper access and the gantries that you simply can’t do without and which all Pylosaurs have in spades.

Plexus is lovely but absolutely massive and like the others won’t go into production on costs alone, in my view all trophies, style over content, and most seem to me to be incapable of mass-production, unless you want to risk going bankrupt. 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. However they are as cheap as chips, assemble faster than an Ikea wardrobe without the need for a telescopic crane and they are portable, which is why the grid are considering them as temporary pylons.

I only entered to give the competition some levity and publicity, It seems some of the committee got that and some didn't. I'm particularly miffed as the Totem is impossible to fabricate in the real world and Pylosaurs are a lot more fun as a finalist.

However watch out for a new Pylosaur coming soon. Pylosaurs

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