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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Totem by New Town Studio

September 16th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: New Town Studio

New Town Studio shortlisted for Pylon Design Competition

Young architectural practice New Town Studio has been shortlisted for the Pylon Design Competition.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and National Grid challenged architects, engineers, designers and students to re-think one of the most iconic features of the British landscape: the electricity pylon, when it announced the competition in May 2011. Proposals were invited to develop a new pylon design to meet the UK’s future energy needs with the potential to deliver for generations to come,whilst balancing community needs and preserving the beauty of our countryside.

Landscape View

  • Architect: New Town Studio
  • Structure Workshop: Peter Laidler, Cameron Bailey

One of six to be chosen from over 250 entries in the anonymous competition, New Town Studio’s design is revealed today alongside other shortlisted proposals at a new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (14 Sept – 5 Oct 2011).

Inspired by the existing lattice pylon originally designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield RA in 1927, New Town Studio’s Totem also uses a lattice steel framework to create a vertical structure which retains the transparent and open qualities of the original in a more modest form to be visually and symbolically appropriate for today.

The cylindrical tower is slimmer, lighter and more economical in its use of materials, occupying less than 1/3 of the footprint of the existing pylon. Vertical insulators have been removed from the pylon ‘arms’ resulting in a more elegant and compact profile. Featuring a modular lattice design that employs large members at the base, where forces are greater, Totem becomes increasingly light and open as it rises to its apex and most visible point.

The jury comprises a panel of experts from the fields of architecture, design, engineering and the energy industry and is chaired by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne. A prize of £5,000 will be awarded to the overall winner when the announcement is made in October 2011. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the shortlisted designs via an interactive website:


Materials and technology

– The tower is made of a lattice of equilateral triangles formed of straight, equal length

cylindrical tubes.

– The tubes are of a painted galvanised high yield steel, like the current pylon, an ‘appropriate’,

widely available, and economical technology.

– Alternative steels – stainless steel or weathering steel – could be used in locations where

maintenance is difficult or conditions are demanding.

– Each tube in the lattice is chosen from stock sizes, the size determined by computation

according to the forces upon it.

– Different types of tower – tension, angle and end, can be designed from the same basic

cylinder form simply by sizing the members to suit the load patterns of each tower type.

– The nodal connections between the tube members will be standardised. Erection,

maintenance and replacement of towers will be straightforward and economical.

– The design employs a cutting edge technology – an electrically insulating composite material

currently being field tested by a team at Manchester University which is used on the arms of the

structure and renders the original pylon’s insulator string obsolete resulting in a cleaner profile.

– The earth wire is held in a lightweight ‘crown’ at the apex of the tower.

New Town Studio was founded by Christopher Snow in August 2011. Born in 1974, Christopher studied at Nottingham and North London Universities, beginning his career with Florian Beigel followed by nine years with Jonathan Woolf Architects where he was responsible for the award-winning Brick Leaf House in London. Christopher continued his career in the studios of Allies and Morrison and since 2007 with Tony Fretton Architects where he managed a number of prestigious projects on sensitive and historic sites; he oversaw the construction of Tietgens Ærgrelse, Copenhagen, and was project architect for both the new town hall of Deinze, Belgium and the new Tower Wharf Café at the Tower of London.

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Category: Studio

One Response to “Totem by New Town Studio”

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