Land of Giants

Architects: Choi + Shine Architects

Where: Iceland

A design that transforms mundane electrical pylons into monuments on the Icelandic landscape.

The project was initially submitted for a 2008 competition held by the Icelandic power transmission company, Landsnet, in conjunction with the Association of Icelandic Architects. The submitted design consisted of a single male pylon-figure as shown in the images and description on the file “Choi+Shine – pylon competition document (small)” and on the submitted board “Choi+Shine – pylon comp board (press)”. The Icelandic jury awarded the design an honorable mention.

At the award ceremony, Landsnet asked Choi+Shine to submit the design of the female pylon-figure, which was shown as a sketch on the competition board. Landsnet expressed interest in building the male and female pylon-figures as functioning monuments at the gateway to Reykjavik. Perhaps due to Iceland’s unfortunate economic crisis, the pylonfigures have not (yet) been constructed. The male and female pylon-figures were sent to Landsnet in 2009. A patent was granted for the design submitted to the Iceland competition.

Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, Choi+Shine has 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 be configured to respond to their environment with appropriate gestures. 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.

In addition, 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. Despite the large number of possible forms, each pylon-figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of preassembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figuresʼ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while the pylon-figures cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction. The pylon-figures are designed to provide supports for the conductors, ground wires and other cables all within required clearances. These clearances are maintained in the various shown positions. The towers are largely self-supporting, sitting on concrete footings, perhaps with the addition of guy wires, depending on requirements of the loading wires.

Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foottall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yetserving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.

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