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Competition: Estonian high-voltage power line pylon

Estonian national energy company Elering AS has announced an international contest to design a landmark electricity pylon near Risti (Deadline: 30 May)

Organised by the Association of Estonian Architects (AEA), the competition seeks ‘attractive’ proposals for an iconic structure that boosts public awareness of the energy network.

The single showpiece pylon is part of Estonia’s high-profile new Harku-Lihula-Sindi 330/110 kilovolt high-voltage line connecting the country to neighbouring Latvia.



Visualisation showing the planned Harku-Lihula-Sindi 330/110 kilovolt high-voltage line

Planned to complete in 2020, the line replaces an outdated predecessor, strengthens the emerging energy market between central Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic states, and promotes energy independence from Russia. 

Elering chair Taavi Veskimägi said: ‘The pylon design must help the technical electricity line fit into the natural environment, but must also raise awareness among Estonian people of the role of the electricity transmission system in modern society

AEA vice-president Kalle Komissarov commented: ‘High-voltage lines, cellular towers, highway bridges and drainage ditches are the newest layers in our cultural landscape.

‘And as our awareness of our environment increases, so too do our demands on it. It is therefore entirely reasonable that in the case of major infrastructure investments, their spatial and visual impact is considered.’



The proposed pylon site near Risti

The landmark structure will occupy a prominent rural site close to the intersection of the busy Ääsmäe-Haapsalu and Risti-Virtsu highways near Risti.

It will be constructed around 700m from a protected marshy area, which is doted with lakes and recognised as an important wetlands habitat for native European birds. The marshy area is popular with ice skaters in the winter and features several geocaching adventure routes.

Elering is also developing an undersea gas pipeline connecting Estonia to Finland. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the start of shale-oil mining in Estonia, which relies heavily on the contentious source of fossil fuel.

The country is converting some of its shale oil plants into combination biomass and peat plants in a bid to deliver 50 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. Hydroelectric power stations accounted for 17.8 per cent of Estonia’s total power consumption in the third quarter of last year.

Pylon proposals must be high quality, modern and relate to the spatial qualities of the surrounding environment. They should not necessarily be made from steel.

Judges in the Estonian-language contest include local architects Urmas Muru and Toomas Tammis; and Kalle Kilk and Ain Köster of Elering AS.

Participating teams must feature at least one designer who has completed a high-voltage power line project of 110kV or more in the past three years.

The winning team will receive a €4,000 first prize and see its design included in the construction tender for the new line, due to be published later this year.

There will also be a €3,000 second place prize, €2,000 third place prize and two honourable mentions worth €1,000 each.

How to apply

Application deadline

4pm local time on 30 May

Contact details

Ain Köster
AS Elering

Tel: +372 715 1368

View the competition announcement and contract notice for more information



Standard Estonian high voltage line

Land of Giants case study: Q&A with Jin Choi and Thomas Shine

The principals of Choi+Shine Architects discuss how the practice went about designing a series of landmark pylons in Iceland

Choi+Shine Architects

Choi+Shine Architects

Thomas Shine and Jin Choi

What challenges did you face in combining function and aesthetics in your Land of Giants pylon project?

As architects, we are familiar with building functions and requirements. However as unoccupied structures, pylons have entirely different functional requirements, which were new to us. Once we had formed the idea for the Giants, we studied the given technical requirements until we fully understood them, so that as we developed our design we could respond to the requirements while keeping our initial vision intact. The biggest challenge was to understand the relative importance of each of the technical requirements, which later allowed us flexibility within the given limitations, enabling us to keep the integrity of our design.

Land of Giants by Choi Shine Architects low  1

Land of Giants by Choi Shine Architects

What material and structural techniques are available to pylon designers seeking to achieve a similarly impressive visual impact?

Apart from the highly specific insulator requirements, where a line is mechanically suspended but electrically isolated from the tower, the materials could be as varied as for any built structure. As the structure is not occupied and can be open to elements, there is more freedom to choose different structural systems and materials.

Land of Giants by Choi Shine Architects  low  2

Land of Giants by Choi Shine Architects

What advice do you have for competition applicants on how to design landmark pylons?

It is exciting that pylons are now thought of as potential landmarks. As long as these structures need to exist, this change in the understanding of infrastructure offers a great opportunity. When we designed the Giants, we approached the problem as an aesthetic one, ensuring the design matched the site while satisfying the technical requirements. We did not think the Giants would be landmarks; we were designing towers that we thought would be beautiful and suit their location. We were fortunate that our vision resonated with so many people.

Land of Giants by Choi Shine Architects low  3

Land of Giants by Choi Shine Architects