Artful Transmission Towers Designed to Look Like Us

pylons sculptures over river photo
Images via Choi + Shine

Who says that transmission towers need to be ugly? One of the biggest downsides of having easy access to energy has long been the unsightly way it's carried from place to place, but one US design firm hopes to revolutionize all that -- by giving electricity pylons a human touch. In a project entitled "The Land of Giants" those normally stark, utilitarian structures are transformed into more aesthetically pleasing sculptures that folks might not mind having in their backyards.

pylons sculptures posed photo

The artful pylons were designed by the Massachusetes based firm Choi+Shine for submission in a recent competition hosted by Iceland's national power transmission company who sought designs that had a low environmental impact. Although the project ultimately received only an honorable mention, it has gone on to win praise closer to home, taking home an award from the 2010 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture.

In the spirit of Easter Island's iconic rock sculptures, "The Land of Giants" is intended to express "quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people," say the designers. But much like the architecturally appealing aqueducts of Ancient Rome, which transported another type of resource that made urban life possible, these artful towers breathe life into a structure that is otherwise quite stark.

two pylon sculptures photo

According to Choi+Shine, the pylons are clearly meant to convey much more than just electricity:

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 also be arranged to create a sense of place through deliberate expression. Subtle alterations in the hands and head combined with repositioning of the main body parts in the x, y and z-axis, allow for a rich variety of expressions. 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.

pylon drawings photo

Even in world powered by renewable energy sources, such transmission towers will likely continue to be the most cost-effective way to transport electricity from place to place. Perhaps it would be wise, as we inch towards a sustainable future, to rethink our energy infrastructure into one that doesn't just keep things running -- but that has the power to actually move us too.

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