Pylons could get revamp with new competition

Architects, designers and engineers have the chance to change the UK’s landscape by designing a new breed of electricity pylon in a new competition launched today by the Royal Institute […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Architects, designers and engineers have the chance to change the UK’s landscape by designing a new breed of electricity pylon in a new competition launched today by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

RIBA’s competition for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and National Grid want to find a new generation of pylon.

Launching the competition, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne hoped it would “ignite creative excitement”. He added: “The dual challenge of climate change and energy security puts us on the brink of a new energy construction age. The equivalent of twenty new power stations is needed by 2020, much more beyond that, and they’ll all need connecting to the grid.”

The UK’s electricity grid includes more than 88,000 pylons. According to RIBA President Ruth Reed, the current steel lattice tower has barely changed since the 1920s when leading architect Sir Reginald Blomfield chose the design. She said: “Design has never been far from our energy network. This is a technically challenging but exciting competition, with the potential to improve our landscapes for decades to come, and I expect it to generate widespread interest.”

Chris Huhne will chair the judging panel that includes the V&A museum’s Director Sir Mark Jones, architects Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and Bill Taylor, National Grid’s Executive Director Nick Winser and journalist Jonathan Glancey.

The competition closes on 12 July, with a prize fund of £10,000 to be shared amongst the winning candidates. National Grid will look at the potential to develop the winning design for use in future projects.

Members of the public will be able to see the shortlisted designs online and at the V&A as part of London Design Festival in September.