Now architects, designers and engineers have been asked for designs for a new generation of electricity pylons, one of the most crucial but controversial features of the British landscape.
There are more than 88,000 pylons in the UK and they stand some 50 metres high, weigh around 30 tonnes and carry up to 400,000 volts of electricity over thousands of kilometres of some of the most exposed, weather-beaten parts of Britain, but the familiar steel lattice tower has barely changed since the 1920s.
The dual challenge of climate change and energy security puts the UK on the brink of a new energy construction age, the equivalent of twenty new power stations is needed by 2020, much more beyond that, and they'll all need connecting to the national grid. It is therefore crucial that an acceptable ways of accommodating the infrastructure in our natural and urban landscapes is found. It is hoped the pylon design competition will ignite creative excitement and help the wider public understand and accept the scale of the energy challenge ahead of us.
Shortlisted designs will be open for the public to view and comment on. In addition an exhibition will be held at the V&A as part of London Design Festival (17-25 September). The judging panel will meet in October to choose an overall winner.
A prize fund of £10,000 will be shared amongst the winning candidates and National Grid will give consideration to developing the winning design for use in the future. More information on the competition can be found on www.ribapylondesign.com.