Welcome to the Pylon Design Competition.

RIBA, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the National Grid invite architects, engineers, designers and students to develop proposals for a new pylon design.

The Competition

2.1 Competition Format
The competition is a call for ideas only with no commitment beyond the competition to develop any of the schemes. However, in the event that the winning scheme or schemes are built then the authors will be fully involved in the design development process, and credited accordingly. Entrants invited to stage two will be expected to further explore the viability of their proposals therefore this should be borne in mind from the outset.

A prize fund of £10,000 will be awarded to the winners (£5,000 to the outright winner and £1,000 to each of the shortlisted candidates).

The competition will run as follows :

Stage 1: Submission of concept designs, from which a shortlist of up to six will be selected and invited to proceed to stage two.

Stage 2: Stage two will involve further exploration and refinement of the stage one design ideas. This stage will commence with one-to-one briefing sessions with shortlisted designers and technical advisers from National Grid. Feedback from stage one judging will also be available during this session. The refined submissions will be subject to a web-based public consultation exercise, and a technical appraisal. Feedback from both will be made available to the Jury Panel in their final deliberations.
National Grid will also arrange for designs to be modelled for final judging.

2.2 Competition Objective
The challenging target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, means substantial change in our energy infrastructure with electricity becoming an increasingly important part of our energy mix. In order to deliver that electricity to our homes, communities and businesses, the UK will see a significant increase in the number of pylons, together with underground cables.

This network of pylons and cables have the potential to transform our landscapes for good or bad, and for generations to come.

The competition aims to help initiate and inform this debate through the vehicle of design and to explore the potential for a new generation of pylon within our landscapes.

We are therefore seeking highly innovative and imaginative solutions that nevertheless respond to the exacting technical requirements and offer the potential for development into deliverable projects. Proposals should be both grounded in reality and be beautiful.

2.3 Location
There is no specific site set for this project however at least one image should show the scheme in the context of the image provided below.

Blank Landscape Blank Landscape (1883 KB)

Holford Rules

Guidelines known as the ‘Holford Rules’ were first developed in 1959 by Lord Holford adviser to the CEGB. These were later reviewed by National Grid in the 1990s and are used by the electricity industry as a mitigation measure when considering the routeing of a new overhead line. These Rules seek to reduce the visual effect for the siting of pylons against the landscape, for instance choosing hill and tree backgrounds in preference to sky background wherever possible, approaching urban areas through industrial zones rather than residential etc. In general terms for this competition you may wish to consider how your design might have an effect in similar landscapes.

Further information about the Holford Rules can be accessed here.

2.4 Jury Panel
A high-profile jury panel will consider and select the winning entry. The Jury Panel, which may be subject to change, will be as follows:

Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Bill Taylor, Architect and RIBA Adviser
Nick Winser, Executive Director UK, National Grid
Ruth Reed, President RIBA
Sir Mark Jones, Director V&A Museum
Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Partner, Grimshaw Architects
Chris Wise, Director, Expedition Engineering
Jim Sutherland, Network Development Director, ScottishPower – Energy Networks
Jonathan Glancey, Architecture and Design Correspondent, The Guardian

The Jury Panel will be supported by a technical assessment panel which will include:

Bill Taylor, Architect and RIBA Adviser
Denise Libretto, Head, Electricity Networks (Planning & Consents) DECC
Boud Boumecid, Asset Policy Engineer, National Grid

In the event of a Jury Panel member being unable to continue to act through illness or any other cause, we reserve the right to appoint an alternative panel member.

2.5 Submission Requirements
Stage One submissions should be presented as follows:
a) A single A1 lightweight board, to illustrate the design concept. The content is left to competitors’ discretion however at least one image should show the scheme in the context of the view provided in Section 1.6. The board should include a short description of no more than 300 words to describe the concept (the A1 board alone should provide the judges with sufficient information to explain the key principles behind the scheme.

b) An accompanying report, on no more than four single A4 sides, to describe the concept and key principles behind it. Plus, an additional two A4 sides to provide a short introduction to the author/s of the design, outlining the author/s design philosophy behind the submission. The key images indicated in a) should be provided on a separate single A4 page.

c) CD-Rom (marked design submission) containing a pdf version of the above.

d) CD-Rom (marked publicity images) containing two images in jpeg format at low (72 dpi) and high (300 dpi) resolution. The publicity images should be representative of the design ideas proposed and be readily identifiable as such. This material may be used for any publicity purposes associated with promoting the competition results, and on the post-competition gallery on this website.

e) The signed declaration form.
Architectural models will not be accepted at stage one, however photographs of models may be included on the design board if used to develop the proposal.

Note : The A1 submission board should be anonymous (see section 4.3 ‘anonymity’).

All documentation (including the CD’s) should be clearly marked with the unique identification number which will be issued upon registration.

Stage Two will commence with one-to-one briefings with technical advisers from National Grid. This session provides teams with an opportunity to individually discuss their proposals with the advisers and to ask any technical questions specific to the ideas proposed.

Additionally shortlisted competitors will be provided with feedback from stage one judging process. Stage two will require shortlisted entrants to refine and develop their concepts in light of the feedback/technical support provided.

A further two A1 boards will be required plus an additional A4 report.

It is also anticipated that a modelling workshop will be held which will be supported and funded by National Grid. Further details will be provided at stage two.

Interviews may form part of the final judging process and shortlisted designers will be advised accordingly in advance.

Public Consultation

The public will have the opportunity to view and comment on the shortlisted designs via the competition website.

In addition there will be a physical exhibition of the shortlisted A1 boards and models at the V&A museum during September, which will be part of the London Design Festival programme of events.

2.6 Assessment Criteria
Stage One

  • Design Quality (40%)
    • appearance
    • creative response
    • quality and clarity of presentation
  • Response to and understanding of Brief (40%)
    • construction approach
    • technical viability
    • functionality and practicality
  • Philosophy and Approach (20%)
    • design philosophy

Stage Two

  • Design Quality in response to feedback (appearance, creative response, quality and clarity) (35%)
  • Construction, viability, functionality, practicality (in response to feedback) (35%)
  • Team capability (10%)
  • Public Response (20%)

2.7 Competition Timetable
The timetable, which may be subject to change, is as follows :

Competition launched, brief available: 23rd May 2011
Deadline for questions: 16:00 hours, 2nd June 2011
Response to questions: 10th June 2011
Deadline for Registration
5th July 2011
Stage 1 submission of designs: 14:00 hours, 12th July 2011
Assessment of designs: 18th & 19th July 2011 *
Shortlisted designers notified:  w/c 25th July 2011 *
One-to-one briefings/modelling workshop:  w/c 15th August 2011 *
Submission of stage two designs:  w/c 5th September 2011 *
Public consultation / technical appraisal:  w/c 12th September 2011 *
Final judging & Winner announced:  w/c 10th October 2011 *

* These dates are indicative only at this stage, and will be finalised during the course of the competition. This website will be updated accordingly.

2.8 Honoraria / Prize Money
There is a total prize fund of £10,000 (+ VAT). The author of the scheme placed first will receive £5,000. The remaining funds will be distributed amongst the stage two finalists.

National Grid will arrange and pay for the final designs to be modelled up to a maximum of £5,000 per shortlisted design.

2.9 Publicity
All entries will be displayed (with the name of the designer) in a public online gallery via this website at the end of the competition. The competition is the first of its kind to be run in the UK and is expected to receive widespread media interest.
Competition Deadline Countdown

Competition deadline has expired.

Tuesday 12th July 2011 : 14:00pm
Please remember to register by the 5 July 2011 deadline.