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RIBA launches electricity pylons competition

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The RIBA has launched a competition to design the next generation of electricity pylons

With up to 20 power stations needed to be built this decade, the competition is part of a bid to connect new infrastructure in the UK without ruining natural landscapes and countryside.

Run by the RIBA for the Department of Energy and Climate Change and National Grid, the contest is open to architects, designers and engineers.

There are 88,000 pylons in the UK, including 22,000 on National Grid’s main transmission network in England and Wales.

The original design was chosen by Reginald Blomfield in 1927 and stands 50 metres high, weighing around 30 tonnes.

The deadline for entries is 12 July and National Grid said it would give ‘serious consideration’ to developing the winning designs.

Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary said: ‘It’s crucial that we seek the most acceptable ways of accommodating infrastructure in our natural and urban landscapes.  I hope the pylon design competition will ignite creative excitement, but also help the wider public understand the scale of the energy challenge ahead of us.’

Nick Winser National Grid’s UK executive director, said: ‘While underground connection will be a viable solution in some sensitive locations, new and replacement pylons will be needed and National Grid is equally keen to support the development of the most visually acceptable overhead solutions.’

A shortlist will be announced at the end of July, with design teams then given the opportunity to work with National Grid before submitting their final designs at the beginning of September.

The final proposals will be on display at the V&A as part of London Design Festival from 17 to 25 September.

In October a judging panel including Chris Huhne, Nick Winser, V&A director Mark Jones, Nicholas Grimshaw, architect Bill Taylor, engineer Chris Wise, critic Jonathan Glancey and a RIBA representative will chose a winner.

RIBA president Ruth Reed, said: ‘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.’

A prize fund of £10,000 will be shared amongst the winning candidates.

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