IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2021 - 23

Figure 6. Classic red Victorian pillar
postbox, now fondly associated with
the United Kingdom. Photo by Sludge
G CC-BY-ND 2.0.
like termination, transposition, cornering, and suspension
towers.
So, once the skillful architects and designers
have done their work, and resulting attractive standard
designs for a harmonious range of transmission
pylons, it is time to choose a distinctive color
scheme. Given their height, transmission pylons
will always be a highly visible feature in the landscape,
so one needs to bear this in minds to show
a little national flair. People can grow fond of red
postboxes, so maybe they will come to associate
yellow transmission pylons with the green fields of
home. Electricity infrastructure should not look the
same dreary grey the world over: each vibrant color,
consistently applied, can distinguish each particular
region. We should harness the ability of powerlines
to " create a place as well as intersect landscape " [6].
Order and regularity in the appearance of transmission
infrastructure are important: this fact signals
that somebody cares, and is trying their best to keep
the physical network look neat and consistent. Furthermore,
by having a recognizable and distinctive
appearance, the network takes on an identity as a
cohesive whole, a unified synchronous system spanning
the nation and serving its people. An anonymous
mishmash of pylon designs will not evoke
this at all, and instead creates a sense of carelessness
and disorder. At the same time, some variation
within an orderly pattern is inherently appealing [2]:
the natural variation of the pylon size and function
provides this, as do the localizing details particular
to each tower.
Figure 7. T-Pylon design by the Bystrup
architectural firm, which won a contest
to find a more esthetic standard pylon
design. Image by U.K. Department of
Energy and Climate Change CC-BY-ND 2.0.
June 2021
Legibility of function: rewarding curiosity
To the passerby, a transmission pylon reveals
nothing of its purpose or wider context: where do
those wires come from, and where do they go? Who
put this here, and when, and why? An anonymous
latticework pylon is mute to such natural human
interest. Instead, good design of electricity infrastructure
should promote legibility by providing
cues that reward such curiosity, revealing what
each specific pylon is for. This could include attractive
markings signposting the origin and destination
of the circuit it carries, as well as its operating
voltage and maximum power capacity. Each pylon
could be numbered, too, to punctuate the progress
along its route, like mileposts on canals or railways,
or pearls on a necklace.
Although these details might invite a little
curiosity, it would be even better if the instantaneous
powerflow could be indicated, to give a
sense of dynamism, movement, and purpose to
these structures. A mechanical dial on each pylon
could show the prevailing Megawatt loading, and
23

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - June 2021

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