The team of Ian Ritchie Architects, RFR and Kathryn Gustafson were invited in 1995 by Electricité de France to compete against 7 other teams in an international competition to design a new series of very high voltage pylons – 225kV and 400kV. Other competitors included Starck, Giugiaro, Wilmotte and Perrault.
The EDF awarded joint first prize to our team.
Our 400kV ‘f’ pylon design has since been developed and full size prototypes were successfully tested in 1998. The first group of the new series has been installed as part of the Tavel-Tricastin Line either side of the Rhône in Le Gard, south of France. Further pylons are likely to be installed during the first decades of the new millennium.
Our concept was developed upon a philosophical investigation into the contemporary meaning of progress. The design concept is based upon a single level configuration of the conductors, which reduces the height of pylons producing a horizontal and discreet expression. The design seeks to establish a clear spatial relationship between the lines and the topology over which it passes. To do this we have developed an adaptable family of pylons. The pylon’s structural form is an ‘f‘, hinting at nature’s curved forms rather than an industrial aesthetic, and carries a three phase single circuit and is made of rolled steel plate. They are twinned to carry two circuits. The pylon column enters the ground with no detail. The EDF accepted our name for the ‘f’ pylon – fougère.
UK Design Council Millennium Product 1999