National Grid Pylons


London, United Kingdom | 2011 | Shortlisted competition entry

Gustafson Porter + Bowman’s pylon design, called ‘Flower Tower’, is heavily influenced by organic shapes, such as birds in flight and the gently curving forms of flowers and plant life. The practice collaborated with structural engineers Atelier One on the project, to design a tower constructed from modular kit of parts that can be easily transported and assembled, and can adapt to different power distribution requirements across varying landscapes in the UK.

‘Flower Tower’ is made of six identical blades that form a single stem, and each of the six ‘leaves’ that carry the high tension cables is identical in its straight section, curved radius and tapered end piece. A blade at the top of the flower holds the earth wire.

The work builds on the experience of developing pylons for EDF in France (Kathryn Gustafson, completed 2002). 

The competition was organised in May 2011 by RIBA, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and National Grid. All shortlisted designs were subsequently shown in the 'A Pylon for the Future' exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

Our design evolved from understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the existing lattice work pylon, using this knowledge to create a new design that fits sensitively within the UK countryside.
— Mary Bowman, Partner
‘Flower Tower’ moves away from the industrial image of the pylon to form an organic, evocative silhouette that matches elegance with practicality.
— Kathryn Gustafson, Founding Partner