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Icelandic Company Designs Human Pylons 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the anthropomorphic-power dept.
Lanxon writes "An architecture and design firm called Choi+Shine has submitted a design for the Icelandic High-Voltage Electrical Pylon International Design Competition which proposes giant human-shaped pylons carrying electricity cables across the country's landscape, reports Wired. The enormous figures would only require slight alterations to existing pylon designs, says the firm, which was awarded an Honorable mention for its design by the competition's judging board. It also won an award from the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture competition."
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Icelandic Company Designs Human Pylons

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  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOspaM.tpno-co.org> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:14PM (#33277774) Homepage

    ... archeologists 3000 years from now will puzzle over their purpose. Obviously such a primitive society couldn't have had electricity.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe we need to reassess our thoughts on the dinosaurs...

      And on a related aside, the "man-shaped pylon" has room for one more cable connection point...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:42PM (#33278196)

      Obviously such a primitive society couldn't have had electricity.

      Look on my works, ye mighty, and be confused.

    • Re:In 3000 years.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:44PM (#33278220) Journal

      A lot of people like to make this claim that in a few thousand years society will have forgotten its ancestry and it will seem so ancient and primitive and confusing.

      While obviously we won't seem as technologically advanced, I have a hard time as thinking of ancient societies as primitive. While their technology wasn't advanced their society isn't all that different from todays. There's an upper and a lower class - a work force and a ruling force - I mean we won't get into the complexities of politics or anything - but even people who think ancient greek religion is dead are actually half wrong: If you've ever read a horrorscope you have encountered a reminance of ancient greek society. All the zodiacs are based upon greek mythology, and a lot of greek mythology is based on the stars which still hold signifigant influence in that zodiac culture.

      The main difference between now and then is that a lot more people have put emphasis on historians. Before the 1800's there really wasn't such a thing as "Archaeologists" - there were "grave robbers" who would break into tombs and sell the valuables but nothing in the interest of preserving history. (Just as a side note, thats why King Tut's Tomb was such a big deal, the first undisturbed tomb of a pharaoh, with valuables and everything still in tact). But now we have Libraries, Museums, historical conservation acts, basically a whole set of society in line with preserving our history. Yes - there WERE libraries in ancient times, but they were nothing like the libraries we have today. Specifically that libraries were not a public resource, only the aristocracy could use the library (both physically and by law, I mean illegal to enter the library if you don't have permission but if you didn't have permission you were probably illiterate anyways). Anyways, since this age of historical preservation has come about, we haven't really "puzzled" over much of society anymore. There are a few small quirks here and there; debates on how they erected the pyramids, how far back "writing" goes, etc etc. But much of it is just 2 widely accepted answers that keep going back and forth on who is right.

      So I guess what I'm trying to say is, 3000 years from now, they won't be going "How did they have electricity back then?" - because we have MANY records of how Benjamin Franklin flew a kite in 1752, and that really sparked development on it. Whereas it was difficult to have the historical records from 1 library survive the test of time way back when, this new fangled internet thing has caused the spread of information so great that the redundancy on our data is so huge that even if every piece of paper is burned and Wikipedia goes down - there are still thousands of documents from every junior high school student that the information is preserved in some form or another. And quite honestly - the sources that AREN'T big are usually the ones with more accurate information. (Every king and pharaoh and emperor claims that they were great - however the accounts from a peasant or soldier are better indicators of how well a nation-state was doing).

      • See: "Joke".

        Reference ancient Egypt and the finds regarding electricity.

        I have no doubts that records from this time period will survive for far longer than from previous societies.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I know, I know.

          I just hear a lot of people who DO make that argument as though it holds some water. "We didn't understand society 2000 years ago, so 2000 years from now they won't understand us either!"

          It just annoys when I see it and I couldn't help myself. I mean I kind of knew that you were making the joke and my post wasn't really directed at you, it was just something that came to mind when I read it. I really should get back to work instead of writing long posts on /.

        • by msauve (701917)

          I have no doubts that records from this time period will survive for far longer than from previous societies.

          Because punched tape, punched cards, cassette tapes, 9 track tapes, QIC tapes, 8" floppies, 5 1/4" floppies, 3.5" floppies, IOMega discs, Syquest discs, MO discs, ZIP discs, JAZ discs, VHS tapes, 8mm tapes, SmartMedia cards, and xD cards last so much longer than stone tablets.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by grasshoppa (657393)

            I think you defeated your own point.

            You just listed 17 forms of storage, which is merely a fraction of what's available. Further, information replication technology being what it is, it's not like 2000 years ago when it took a month+ to scribe a book.

            I'll grant you, it's a question of quantity over quality, but the results are the same; records from our society will last far longer than from previous societies.

        • See: "Joke".
          Reference ancient Egypt and the finds regarding electricity.

          The ancient Egyptians performed some impressive feats of engineering (exactly how they went about building the pyramids is still up for debate). They also had good insights in many sciences, but electricity is not part of it.

          Some battery-ish bottles have been found near Baghdad, these were extremely weak and just might have been used for gilding or metal-plating. As for the nutcases who claim that all the "schoolbook experts" are wrong and the Egyptians had what we know as electricity and electric light, we

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>All the zodiacs are based upon greek mythology

        There's 1.5 billion Chinese people that would probably argue otherwise.

    • ... archeologists 3000 years from now ...

      will wonder why there is a rusted blob of steel on the ground at regular intervals across uneven terrain. Until they get bored and go to Egypt to check out pyramids.

    • by Kalidor (94097)

      All of a sudden the Easter Island statues' purpose becomes clear!

    • and charlie chaplin still won't be in the public domain.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:15PM (#33277788)

    ... Terran-shaped pylons! That way you can disguise one in their base until you're ready and then bam! warp in dudes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:16PM (#33277802)

    Or just carrying a lot of voltage on the third phase?

  • Obligatory: (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Must construct additional pylons.

  • by Maddog Batty (112434) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:21PM (#33277896) Homepage

    This is the same as the gravity powered lamp (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/20/1446256). It is a good idea that looks cool (cool enough to win awards) but has major drawbacks which make it completely impracticable to build.

    Pylons typically have four large legs widely spaced apart for good reasons. Reducing them to two and making them very narrow isn't a good thing (TM). They also typically have 6 arms so as to keep the cost per cable down and each different design has to go through a lot of testing to ensure it can cope with the loads.

    Nice blue sky thinking but an engineer hasn't been anywhere near the plans. If you want to give me an award, I to can come up with a nice pretty picture of a car that runs on one fried egg per 1000 miles. It's a nice sound bite but just as impossible to build.

    • I'm not an engineer, so take this with a grain of salt...

      They don't look terribly different than, say, a radio tower -- relatively straight, narrow, and tall, with cables coming off of them to stabilize them.

      But I'm not sure how to deal with the arms -- give them six arms, and it becomes nightmare fuel.

    • by Bai jie (653604) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:43PM (#33278212)

      Pylons typically have four large legs widely spaced apart for good reasons.

      No they don't, Pylons typically only have one large Octahedron crystal in which the tip barely touches the ground.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jumperalex (185007)

        Actaully they have both and it just depends. Here in the States, I see more four-legged power-line structures than I do the single point types. But I have seen them. Anyway the point is, the GP clearly doesn't realize there is more than one way to make a structure that is sturdy.

    • Pylons typically have four large legs widely spaced apart ... They also typically have 6 arms ...

      Ah, so we should fashion them after a four-legged [blogspot.com] Buddha [sideshowworld.com]? Although, "Centaur Buddha" sounds more like a 90s alt-punk band...

    • by cowscows (103644) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:48PM (#33278282) Journal

      These almost certainly wouldn't be impossible to build, in fact they don't look like they'd even be that difficult to engineer. The more practical question is how much more would they cost compared to a more traditional tower, and does society see a value in spending that extra money. Just because something is utilitarian doesn't mean that it shouldn't look nice. While a straightforward steel bridge can certainly have an inherent beauty to it, I'm glad that I see many different designs in my travels. Helps keep the world a more interesting place.

    • 6 arms... or more... (Score:3, Informative)

      by denzacar (181829)

      Humanoid statues can hold cables with their elbows, shoulders, top of their head, middle of their chest etc.
      Not just with their hands - like real humans.

      And if you think that humanoid pylons are impractical - get a load of these ugly things. [dezeen.com] No pun intended.
      And then try imagining servicing one of those nightmares.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Humanoid statues can hold cables with their elbows, shoulders, top of their head, middle of their chest etc.
        Not just with their hands - like real humans.

        If you think of all the places that have had piercings, there's quite a few more places to hang an insulator.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        I can just imagine what our high winds would do to those... way more surface area to catch and create lift.

      • And if you think that humanoid pylons are impractical - get a load of these ugly things. [dezeen.com] No pun intended.

        Yep, those are quite something. But they lost me as soon as I read,

        “A parametric code drives the heights in an continuous gradient, which will be manufactured physically through help of milling machines,” says Koering.

        Really? Milling fifty- to hundred-foot tall structures? That sounds hideously costly, compared to the bolt-it-together steel structures currently in use, or even the ones contemplated by the linked story. While quite visually striking, these pylons are constructed of aramid fiber and resin -- not exactly inexpensive or simple to work with. And how well will they cope with lightning strikes?

    • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:08PM (#33278614)
      Pylons typically have four large legs widely spaced apart for good reasons.
      If you look at the pictures, they have lots of guy wires keeping them stable, a system which would work with even a single foot.
      They also typically have 6 arms so as to keep the cost per cable down
      The pictures show 4 attachment points at hands and elbows. Top of head would be an obvious fifth point, and there is no reason the wires can be just as widely spaced as on a traditional pylon.

      The only real drawbacks are these require additional material ti build and additional setup costs, but the net result looks more like art than a boring series of towers.
      • by Reziac (43301) *

        I'm thinking the main difficulty will be the excess cost since this adds complexity ("Hey Boss, they sent us an extra arm on this one, but not enough legs!"). Also began to wonder if strategically painting a standardized tower could achieve a similar visual effect.

        That said, it's a clever idea, but I find it annoys my eye. I don't consider the standard towers invasive in lonely places -- but the "human" ones strike me as an intrusive presence, as if artsy-fartsy civilization has suddenly been imposed on the

    • by cgenman (325138)

      The contest winner [dezeen.com] has 3 legs and 2 arms, +3 additional attachment points. I hate to sound this terrible, but this is Iceland we're talking about, not Southern California. They probably don't need wall-to-wall high-voltage wires.

    • by DeadboltX (751907) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:47PM (#33279120)
      Problem solved: Just make each pylon a pair of copulating humans. You then get 4 legs, 4 arms, maybe some knees and elbows depending on the varying positions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094)

      I have it on fairly good authority that structures of this shape are capable of standing upright.

    • by hey! (33014)

      I don't see the point of speculating about this, because a real structural engineer could give us an authoritative answer should anyone actually want to build some of these. He'd just plug the configuration into some kind of finite element analysis doohickamajiggie and tell you "go ahead" or "forget it" or "overbuild enough to raise your cost estimate by 5x". That at least covers the kinds of issues you raise here.

      It is possible that these things might have unexpected dynamic properties, but that could be

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Belial6 (794905)
      This [flickr.com] is how they have been building them around here for the last few decades. Clearly it works.
    • The obviously solution is to convert the population to Hinduism and give the figures 6 arms.

    • That's interesting... We seem to have a bunch of single post pylons right outside the building where I sit. Maybe I'm just imaging them...
    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      i wrote to those guys and told them it wasn't gravity powered. Gravity is just the catalyst for the real energy source... whatever the person who lifted the weight had for lunch. Which makes it largely solar powered.

  • What a retarded use of human resources.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447)

      What a retarded use of human resources.

      So you've never ever bought something because it looked good? Thank goodness people like you don't have their way all the time. The world would look like Soviet Russia if they did.

      • So you've never ever bought something because it looked good? Thank goodness people like you don't have their way all the time. The world would look like Soviet Russia if they did.

        Have you ever bought a frying pan because it looked good?

        A hammer?

        A screwdriver?

        You get the point. :P

        • Have you ever bought a hammer, frying pan, or screw driver? You think the colors/shape of the handles on those devices are entirely utilitarian in form or do you think just maybe, they might also be made to be aesthetically pleasing? It doesn't matter as much with tools of course, but then you don't have that tool permanently installed where you have to look at it every day and have it affect property values.
          • Would you buy a screwdriver with a handle shaped like a sensuous woman?

            And if so, wouldn't you be EMBARASSED to have it in a place where you - and god-forbid, anyone else - might see it?

            I know I would.

            • Would you buy a screwdriver with a handle shaped like a sensuous woman?

              And if so, wouldn't you be EMBARASSED to have it in a place where you - and god-forbid, anyone else - might see it?

              Clearly, you've never shopped for mud flaps [innerauto.com].

        • by cgenman (325138)

          Have you ever gone to a high-priced resort island like Iceland because it looked good?

        • Have you ever bought a frying pan because it looked good?

          Hell yes. When I'm entertaining a hot chick and cooking a seduction meal for her, I don't want her thinking I live in some sort of student house. My kitchen utensils speak of a bachelor pad that is occupied by a man who has his shit together. And I'm not the only one. Look at the amount of money people pay at Williams & Sonoma for designer toasters, pots, pans, and tea towels.

          A hammer?

          Maybe. If it looks cheap I'm less inclined to buy it. Plus, a certain amount of design effort goes into making them look good th

      • In Soviet Russia, fashion picks you!
    • by sjames (1099)

      How do you figure? It looks like about the same amount of materials for something that was needed anyway. What's so bad about being a little more creative with how you weld the materials together?

      • If you make every pylon different, you lose the ability to mass-produce the component parts. When the time comes to erect them, the assembly crews are dealing with different parts and different drawings each time, so there is no "learning from experience". And each separate design will need to be tested individually for wind resistance, structural integrity, ice loading, etc.

        Yeah, they look cool, but the downsides are numerous, and most likely a project-killer.

        • by sjames (1099)

          It doesn't look like they expected to make every pylon different, rather they expect that more than one design will naturally exist to accommodate different needs, much like we have with the purely utilitarian designs.

    • I dunno, I think she looks kinda hot.
  • missing something? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by papabob (1211684) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:24PM (#33277940)

    Reading TFA (I know, I know...) I'm not sure if it's a design contest to _actually_ build the thing or simply to draw something nice to sell to a news agency and fill empty time in tv shows.

    BTW, looking at the photos my first thought was "traditional pylons doesn't need chains to maintain verticallity"

    • BTW, looking at the photos my first thought was "traditional pylons doesn't need chains to maintain verticallity"

      Non-traditional, but is it unusual? I thought I'd seen transmission towers with guy wires, or at least some looked as though they should have guy wires (narrow base, tapering up and out).

      • by vlm (69642)

        Non-traditional, but is it unusual? I thought I'd seen transmission towers with guy wires, or at least some looked as though they should have guy wires (narrow base, tapering up and out).

        Actually, if you examine the pictures, those are more like "girl wires" since these towers seem to have, uh, kind of wide hips and not much on top if you know what I mean. "Honey, does this 16 KV three phase service make my butt look fat?"

        From a structural engineering perspective a phallic symbol would be much simpler and more stable, and from an EE perspective probably less corona discharge. Vaguely water tower shaped. Maybe there are some coastie states where that idea would fly.

      • Non-traditional, but is it unusual? I thought I'd seen transmission towers with guy wires, or at least some looked as though they should have guy wires (narrow base, tapering up and out).

        Yep, guyed transmission pylons are not exactly a new thing. Many two-legged towers [fabrimet.com] are in service today. Balancing on a single point [mannvit.com] is even relatively common. (One advantage of these towers is less site preparation may be needed. Since the lengths of the guys are adjustable, the location of the pylon doesn't need to be levelled, and a smaller foundation is required.)

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:26PM (#33277966)
    Wow, and I thought clown dolls were freaky when I was a kid. Can't wait for kids to wake up screaming that the giant electrical skeletons are coming to get them!
  • They should just get Disney to subsidize them & build a bunch of these:
    http://atlasobscura.com/place/mickey-pylon [atlasobscura.com]

  • All they would need now is one holding a sword aloft, and the words will flow from the mouths of geeks everywhere: "I have the Power!!!".... :-)

  • So giant robots will not be scary at all compared with metal towers? What a marvellous idea. The Eiffel tower is due for an anthropomorphic makeover any day now. The colossus of Paris perhaps.
  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:31PM (#33278046)

    Note to self, don't invite Don Quixote to Iceland.

  • Do it!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dwheeler (321049) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:33PM (#33278072) Homepage Journal

    If they do the real job effectively, and don't cost too much more, they should do it. In fact, I'd like to see these worldwide. If human-shaped ones don't have enough legs, then animal-shaped ones might be good alternative (dinosaurs? dogs? dragons?).

    Today's pylons do the job, but let's face it, they're ugly. If we have to dot our landscapes with pylons, we should at least make them interesting.

  • Would you like to buy some Icelandic Honey Pylons? Oh please! We're bally cold and there's nothing but bloody fish to eat!

  • Less is more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @01:58PM (#33278420)

    The towers of the George Washington Bridge [wikipedia.org] were originally to be given a faux masonry facing.

    To our great good fortune that never happened:

    "The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. The car reaches an unexpectedly wide apron; the second tower is very far away; innumerable vertical cables, gleaming against the sky, are suspended from the magisterial curve which swings down and then up. The rose-colored towers of New York appear, a vision whose harshness is mitigated by distance." (Le Corbusier, "When the Cathedrals were White")

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:01PM (#33278478) Homepage Journal

    confused hippies will assume the burning man festival has been moved to iceland and multiplied by 1,000. they will proceed to inadvertently bring down the entire country's electrical infrastructure during the namesake ritual of the closing of their festivities. iceland will discover they can successfully drive the hippies back into the sea with the playing of bjork music over loudspeakers. but the smoke from the burning human pylons will result in europe closing down their entire airpace for a week

  • Wow, the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture. What an honor. What's next? An Academy Award for "Best Unmade Motion Picture".
    • by vlm (69642)

      An Academy Award for "Best Unmade Motion Picture".

      Alex, What is the Star Wars movies containing Jar Jar Binks?

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:26PM (#33278856)

    Um, has anybody checked if the Easter Island Statues had signs of carrying power cables? That answer might clear up a lot of riddles.

  • by js3 (319268)

    you must construct additional pylons!

  • My fear with those human looking pylons is that the electricity will be connected wrong, and in some freak incident, the damn things will come alive and start stepping on people.

    But it's sure would be cool as shit to see that Irrational Fear come to pass also.

    Nevermind me.... I'm silly.

  • Det. Thorn: You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Pylon is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!
  • They'll scare off the Daleks.
  • awesomely beautiful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @03:54PM (#33280062) Journal
    I hope they go ahead with this because it's beautiful, and it's a comparatively inexpensive alteration to existing towers that converts them from a necessary eyesore into something that at least some people will actually enjoy. I'll go back to Iceland again just to see these, if they do get installed.

    . It's also quite an upgrade for their power system. Iceland produces *enormous* amounts of electricity from their hydroelectric plants, so there's always a need for more power lines from the interior, where the reservoirs are located, to the coast, where the aluminum smelters are being built. I was reading a discussion of electrical systems in a small museum in Vik (I believe) where they mentioned that until the 1960's much of Iceland had single-wire power distribution -- not single phase, mind you, but just a single wire, that carried high voltage, and used the earth itself as the current return path. Any building with power outside of the few cities had its own monster variable transformer so the people living there could adjust the in-house voltage to the value they needed, to account for voltage drop along the supply line.

  • Obviously, Iceland is hoping to host the next one.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @05:09PM (#33281098)
    Couldn't each pylon be designed to look like a pole dancer?
  • I'd love it if they used this design for the Beauly to Denny [bbc.co.uk] power line, if only to see how many of them get set on fire. There are two groups of Scots that might do so... those opposed to the visual intrusion of pylons in otherwise unspoilt scenery, and those who got lost on the way to the Wicker Man festival.

    Personally I quite like them. They look like a cross between Rez and Thunderbirds.

  • After getting past the thought of "been there, done that with Battlestar Galactica", my next thought was of the orange cones that are put on roads to guide traffic and are constantly getting run over. They're also getting constantly run over in driver's ed classes. I couldn't imagine why some sick bastard wanted make those cones look like humans unless he really hated highway maintenance workers.
  • Choi + Shine is not an Icelandic company! I wonder where the heck the submitter got that. Their website puts their address at

    Choi+Shine Architects office
    358 Tappan St
    Brookline, MA
    02445

  • I should have filed a patent or something.

  • There is a reason pylons are boring: It is extremely hard to come up with a design that actually works, i.e. is resilient under adverse conditions. The current designs are the results of more than a century of experimentation. Deviating from them in such an extreme fashion would require a few decades of testing for each individual design and with several hundred, geographically diverse, instances. Anything less would be inviting frequent catastrophic failure in a piece of very critical infrastructure.

    This w

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