Electricity pylons are generally viewed as a blot on the landscape, and many communities resist their installation, although some online communities see their beauty. To counter this, British Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce that households living close to new pylons and electricity substations could receive up to £1,000 a year off their energy bills. Nonetheless, some people are beginning to wonder whether communities might be more supportive of pylons if they had a different look.
Design companies have had a go at providing alternatives to the typical metal pole design. In 2008, US-based architects Choi + Shine came up with the idea incorporating pylons that look like huge human sculptures, making them into a project entitled “Land of Giants”. The pylons have yet to be built anywhere in the world, in part because of political wrangling over where they will be located. There are also cost issues to consider although the materials used are the same as those used to build standard pylons.
Others have also tried to improve the look of pylons by trying to make them both beautiful and functional. In 2011, the National Grid launched a competition with the Royal Institute of British Architects, to find a new model of pylon. Danish architect Bystrup won with a giant T design with two diamonds hanging off either end of the crossbar. The pylons are a third shorter and quicker to erect than standard models. Lattice versions were not as popular in local feedback.
An alternative to making pylons prettier and smaller, disguising them as trees, or incentivising people to tolerate them is to learn to love the pylon for what it is. Kevin Mosedale, founder of the online “Pylon of the Month blog” believes pylons can have “gaunt skeletal beauty”. Despite resistance from some quarters, pylons continue to be built, as the UK moves to greater use of renewable power
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