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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chain of human pylons planned for Iceland

By Matthew Moore

A proposal to install a chain of human-shaped pylons across Iceland – transforming an ugly utility into something of remarkable beauty – has won a leading architecture award.

The pylons would be around 150ft tall
The pylons would be around 150ft tall Photo: Choi + Shine

The “Land of Giants” plan would have seen dozens of metallic figures erected across the island’s volcanic landscape.

Each humanoid electricity pylon could be twisted into a different posture, allowing the structures to project moods fitting with their surroundings.

Choi + Shine, the US architecture practice behind the proposal, said that the humanoid towers would be “powerful, solemn and variable”, and represent a modern take on the ancient Easter Island statues.

According the proposals submitted to an Icelandic energy company, the pylons would stand around 150ft tall and be constructed from steel, glass and concrete.

Despite their striking appearance, costs would be kept low as the figures would require only minor alterations to standard pylon designs.

The firm wrote: “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 judging committee of the High-Voltage Pylon Competition, which was established to find an innovative design for Iceland’s new pylon network in 2008, gave the proposals an honourable mention.

Human pylons
Human pylons Photo: Choi + Shine

Although Landsnet, the company responsible for managing the country’s electricity network, decided not to push ahead with the plans, their originality was honoured this month by the influential Boston Society of Architects.

Land of Giants was one of four winners of the BSA’s annual Unbuilt Architecture Award, which recognises the boldness of unrealised projects.

While the human pylons not be to everybody's taste, they point towards more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to the imposing towers that currently dominate the British countryside.

In June, conservationists warned that the country's most beautiful landscapes – including the Mendip Hills in Somerset and Dedham Vale in Suffolk – are under threat from a new wave of high-voltage pylons.