Pylon for the Future competition
shortlist announced

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Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

The six shortlisted entries in the RIBA competition to design new electricity pylons for the UK have been announced.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Amanda Levete Architects and Arup propose a bow-like pylon (top), while Gustafson Porter have designed a structure with curving branches (above).

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Ian Ritchie Architects collaborated with Jane Wernick Associates to design an asymmetrical pylon (above).

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Knight Architects stripped away all unnecessary and oversized components for the design of their Y-shaped structure (above), while Bystrup propose a T-shaped pylon with triangular conductors (below).

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Newtown Studio and Structure Workshop’s proposal is a round lattice with a frame that thins towards the top (below).

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Models of each entry are on show at the V&A museum in London until 5 October.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

The Pylon for the Future competition was organised in collaboration with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the National Grid.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

A £10,000 prize fund will be divided among the winning teams and their designs will be considered for development by National Grid.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Dezeen announced the launch of the competition back in May - see our earlier Dezeen Wire.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Another popular story about electricity pylons on Dezeen features structures shaped like human figures - see our earlier story here and see all our stories about pylons here.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Photography is by Zoe Norfolk.

Pylon for the Future competition shortlist

Here are some more details from the competition organisers:


A vision of our electric future: What might Britain’s new pylons look like?

Six Pylon Design Competition finalists unveiled

Chris Huhne opened a display featuring scale models of six striking designs for new electricity pylons to the public today at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The “Pylon for the Future” display forms part of the London Design Festival and is open to the public until 05 October 2011.

The finalists are:

  • Silhouette by Ian Ritchie Architects and Jane Wernick Associates
  • T-Pylon by Bystrup Architecture, Design and Engineering
  • Y-Pylon by Knight Architects with Roughan & O’Donavon, and ESB International in association with MEGA
  • Flower Tower by Gustafson Porter with Atelier One, and Pfisterer
  • Plexus by Al-A with Arup
  • Totem by New Town Studio, with Structure Workshop

Speaking to the finalists Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said:

“Britain will see the equivalent of twenty new power stations constructed by 2020, and we need to use electricity pylons to get this new, low carbon energy to your televisions and toasters, dishwashers and DVD players. We must make sure that we take into account the visual impact on the landscape and also the view of the public, and this is what the pylon design competition is all about. I am highly impressed by the quality of these designs and I hope everyone takes the time to get involved and give their view.”

To coincide with this pylon design display, National Grid has today published its new approach to building new transmission infrastructure. Using this approach, National Grid will put greater emphasis on mitigating the visual impact of its new electricity lines, while balancing this with the need to minimise household energy bills.

National Grid’s Executive Director UK, Nick Winser said:

“Connecting Britain’s new power stations to our homes and businesses will be one of the great infrastructure challenges of the next decade and beyond. Through the use of new technology, pylon design, extensive consultation and undergrounding where appropriate, our new approach will ensure we consider very seriously the visual impact of new transmission lines.”

Chris Huhne commented:

“National Grid’s approach is very welcome, and is consistent with Government policy set out in the National Policy Statements, which Parliament approved in July. Pylons are a vital part of the grid but people in areas potentially affected by new transmission lines can be reassured that alternatives to overhead lines will be actively explored, with undergrounding wherever justified.”

With a new generation of power stations due to come online, in the coming decades, new transmission lines will be needed to carry this new energy to homes and businesses. These lines will connect new sources of power generation, such as wind farms and nuclear power plants.

National Grid’s more sophisticated approach to the visual impact of transmission lines reflects collaboration with Government and builds on the recently-designated National Policy Statements (NPS). National Grid will consider the visual impact of its new electricity lines with greater sensitivity to the beautiful British countryside, while balancing this with the need to minimise household energy bills. It will lead to greater focus on a range of mitigation measures such as undergrounding, re-routing, alternative pylon design.

On 23 May the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and National Grid called for designs for a new generation of electricity pylon. 250 submitted designs from around the world have been whittled down to just six finalists who have been working with the National Grid and Millennium Models to build scale models of their designs for the final judging panel.

As well as exploring the design of the pylon itself, the competition aims to explore the relationship between energy infrastructure and the environment within which it needs to be located. The challenge is to design a pylon that has the potential to deliver for future generations, whilst balancing the needs of local communities and preserving the beauty of the countryside.

The public are invited to comment on the designs via the competition website (www.ribapylondesign.com) until the 5 October and those comments will be taken into account by the judging panel when they make their final decision later that month.

Chris Huhne will chair the judging panel, which will include National Grid’s Nick Winser, former Director of the V&A Sir Mark Jones, architects Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and Bill Taylor, engineer Chris Wise, the journalist Jonathan Glancey, Scottish Power representative Jim Sutherland and a former RIBA President, Ruth Reed.

A prize fund of £10,000 will be shared amongst the winning candidates and National Grid will give consideration to developing the winning design for use in future projects.

  • Greenish

    The AL/Arup entry is beautiful, and the only one which, for me, is a real departure from the angular, industrial eyesores we have currently.

  • http://twitter.com/CJEnglishTweets @CJEnglishTweets

    Even though the bow design is really lovely, I admonish any advocation of this project, pressure should be placed on the Government to bury pylons, not to give them an excuse to keep these monstrosities above ground, slap some makeup on them and leave leukemia to the NHS!

    • Kardiogramm

      In order to do that you will have to dig a pit the width of a double lane highway across Britain to accommodate the necessary functional requirements. That money is better spent on transport infrastructure which needs a desperate overhaul in the UK. If people in the UK really love the countryside they should embrace high density living instead of supporting suburban sprawl seeping its way into our natural surroundings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jyanzi Jyanzi Kong

    where possible, i'd like to see wind generators incorporated as added power supply.

    • R Mason

      There are no small scale wind or solar technologies included in these as they need to be located very close to a substation due to the drop off of power you get when sending the comparable low voltage power through long cables. This sort of low power produced by these technologies cannot be easily fed in to the High voltage current used in the national grid unless there is a substation at each pylon (very expensive. Nice thought but very impractical

  • Monic

    AL/Arup victory is pretty clear… the others are kind of clumsy (with all my respects to their work…)

  • Patrick

    Why aren't these structures also producing electricity to be fed back into the grid?

    • R Mason

      There are no small scale wind or solar technologies included in these as they need to be located very close to a substation due to the drop off of power you get when sending the comparable low voltage power through long cables. This sort of low power produced by these technologies cannot be easily fed in to the High voltage current used in the national grid unless there is a substation at each pylon (very expensive. Nice thought but very impractical

  • http://www.laperla-bar.com paulindr

    CJEnglishTweets said it first – the bow design stands out but surely it’s time to bury these horrific wires instead of jollying them up!!!

    • Chris

      That costs far too much money and time.

  • xtiaan

    Im suprised noone whacked on a wind turbine or solar cells, what makes more sense than pylons that make power?

    • Chris

      You'd need a sub-station at every single pylon to feed the low voltage renewable energy into the high voltage power grid. Let's research our arguments before we criticise shall we?

  • Philg

    In the landscape im particularly liking the T pylon, simple and understated, and most importantly much cheaper to produce than the others, which dont really meet the brief of simple construction with and easy access to the power lines. Although agree there should be a design which allows the retro fitting of an wind turbine as required for breezy spots to feed back directly.

  • nicey

    as single objects, some of these entries are passable; but do they they stand up to repetition in their tens of thousands across the landscape? none of them come close to the simplicity of HDA's design for Italy (even the two near copies of that design). shouldn't the goal have been to come up with something a little more self effacing, as unnoticeable as possible even?

  • Matt

    The Amanda-Arup design is beautiful.

    Is there any cost information for each entry? that surely has great sway in the final decision.

    I'm glad no designer has tried to put wind turbines on any of these structures – it would be completely against their design function – Think of the maintenance involved vs. such a tiny gain in electricity generation.

    I wish Thomas Heatherwick had a go!

  • Yaniv Peer

    Whilst I agree that there should be more energy being generated from these designs… i dont believe that any once can argue that the ALA entry is not the best entery, both in terms of design (brilliant job Max!!!!) and visualisation composition (amazing job Filippo!!!!).
    Well done guys!

    • http://twitter.com/burtja @burtja

      we'll see what the panel thinks.

  • detailmerchant

    These look great but imagine winching/climbing yourself up and trying to replace a power line in gail force winds – its unclear how maintainance would be possible with some of these designs.

  • http://twitter.com/burtja @burtja

    sadly the images form the V&A have the Silhouette model with oversized insulators, bit of a dis-advantage. I love the design, but I am biased.

    My problems with AL-A design is that I think its one directional and I'm sceptical about the structural efficiency of the thing.

    I know that these 1:50's and visuals were made before the second round (detailed) submission, it'll be interesting how much structural tweaking goes on.

    It's not a popularity contest anyway, there is far more to it.

  • http://dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    Let's ditch all these and retake Tesla's concept of wireless power transmission instead :)

  • http://www.zazous.co.uk/ Nick Austin

    Bury

    The

    Wires!

    And then bury the windmills.