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Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects

Photo of pylons holding the wires through the landscape
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

How many times have you found yourself in a situation of driving on a lonely road and everything you see is the road and high-voltage pylons following that road? Have you ever thought how those pylons could be more interesting? Choi + Shine Architects did. And they decided to design them. 


In 2008 they submitted their idea to Landsnet, a public company that owns and runs the electrical transmission system in Iceland where 80% of the electricity is from green sustainable sources, such as geothermal power. The pylons were intended to be constructible, affordable and durable, made of steel, glass and concrete. They sought to make an iconic, unforgettable pylon, that created an identity for Iceland and the power company.

"Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, we have created a series of towers that are powerful, solemn and variable. These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon-figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity.


The pylon-figures can be configured to respond to their environment with appropriate gestures. As the carried electrical lines ascend a hill, the pylon-figures change posture, imitating a climbing person. Over long spans, the pylon-figure stretches to gain increased height, crouches for increased strength or strains under the weight of the wires.

The pylon-figures can also be arranged to create a sense of place through deliberate expression. Subtle alterations in the hands and head combined with repositioning of the main body parts in the x, y and z-axis, allow for a rich variety of expressions. The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town.

Despite the large number of possible forms, each pylon-figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of pre-assembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figures’ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while the pylon-figures’ cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction.

Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow."
          -Choi + Shine Architetcs

All images and designs © Choi+Shine Architects, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Photo of male and female pylon design
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Photo of pylons designed to look like they're walking
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Illustrations of different styles of pylons
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Illustration of designed pylons
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Illustration of pylons walking around
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Detailed illustration of male and female pylon design
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Another illustration of two pylons
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

Female pylon wired to the ground
Unusual Architecture In Iceland, The Land of Giants by Choi + Shine Architects
© Choi+Shine Architects, LLC

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