Sunday, August 15, 2010

Who said pylons have to be boring?

I'm intrigued with the award-winning designs of Choi+Shine Architects for electricity pylons in Iceland. They haven't been built, but were submitted for a 2008 competition. The organizing committee reported:

The competition’s goal was to obtain new ideas in types and appearances for 220kV high-voltage towers and lines. The competition emphasized that specific consideration be given to the visual impact of the towers (or lines) and that careful consideration be given to the appearance of towers near urban areas and unsettled regions.

The competitors were free to choose whether all the towers would have a new look, particular towers and selected environments would have a new look, or whether the appearance of known types of towers would be altered. In addition, it was left up to the competitors whether the design would blend into the landscape in rural and urban areas, or the tower/towers would stand out as objects.

The main goal of the competition was that a new type of tower/towers would emerge, altering the overall appearance of line routes and that towers could be developed further with respect to environmental impact, the electromagnetic field lifetime and cost.

The competition was advertised in Iceland and abroad.

Choi + Shine's submission won an Honorable Mention at the 2010 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture contest. Their Web site describes their proposal as follows:

Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, we have created a series of towers that are powerful, solemn and variable. These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon-figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity.

The pylon-figures can be configured to respond to their environment with appropriate gestures. As the carried electrical lines ascend a hill, the pylon-figures change posture, imitating a climbing person. Over long spans, the pylon-figure stretches to gain increased height, crouches for increased strength or strains under the weight of the wires.

. . .

Despite the large number of possible forms, each pylon-figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of pre-assembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figures’ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while the pylon-figures’ cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction.

Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.

There's more at the link.

That's some pretty creative thinking! It might be fun if they were built one day.



reflectoscope said...

I can only imagine the engineers and whoever designs the maintenance program for such an installation weeping quietly at the thought of it! They look great, but considering how fundamental electricity is to our lifestyle making it any more difficult than need be is simply a bad idea.


Silver the Evil Chao said...


*shot, repeatedly*

TheGraybeard said...

Reflectoscope - +1

It's cool - the first time you see it. Then they become just another set of powerline pylons. With all the maintenance, rust and other problems they all have, except, I'll bet, a lot harder to maintain.

Disclaimer: I'm a "form follows function" guy. I think the A-10 Warthog is beautiful.