design competition

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I’ve always considered electrical transmission lines – especially the monster ones marching across the landscape – a bit menacing and definite eyesores. Imaginative and humorous new pylon designs prompted by an international design competition could change my opinion.

Brookline, Massachusetts based architects Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine have re-thought the humble pylon in their entry “The Land of Giants” by transforming them into human-like statues.

The competition was sponsored by the Icelandic power company Landsnet, which owns and runs the electrical transmission system in Iceland where 80% of the electricity is from green sustainable sources, such as geothermal power. The goal was to obtain new ideas in types and appearances for 220kV high-voltage towers and lines that encircle the country.

According to Choi+Shine, “we sought to make an iconic, unforgettable pylon, that created an identity for Iceland and the power company.”


The pylon figures in Iceland vary in position. 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.


The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town.


Despite the large number of possible forms, each 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 cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction.

For Icelandic color inspiration click here and here.


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