Pylons of the future: Dancing with Nature / HDA

HDA’s construction technologies used for the arch of the Turin Olympic Footbridge (previously featured on AD), have been further refined for their most recent award winning competition proposal, entitled Pylons of the future: Dancing with Nature. The competition, held by Terna, a private national electricity provider, asked participants to design pylons of the highest technical and aesthetic quality with a minimal impact on the environment. HDA’s design response was based on transforming the current ‘industrial soldier’ image of today’s pylons into an elegant shape whose form was inspired by nature.

More images and more about the pylons after the break.

The competition seemed to pose a contradictory request: make the pylons, a clearly man-made structure, blend in with nature. By evaluating the relationship between the pylons and nature, HDA intended to create a structure that would “become a symbol of compatibility and symbiosis of man in his environment and not the inverse.”

Inspired by the form of the shoots of a young plant, HDA’s pylons work off the basis of Fuller’s tensegrity, as the “shoots” are stabilized by a system of tension cables at their tips. The tension and compression of the system gives the pylon an elastic strength to resist wind forces and retain an optimal elegance. Their triangular surfaces are inclined to reflect the light to become a singular and elegant plane with minimal shadow.

The new pylons also respond individually to their natural context and forces.  The pylons lean into the direction of the forces of the cables they are required to carry, creating the allusion of the pylons “dancing” across the landscape.  The “dancing” pylons find structural equilibrium by leaning into the curve of the electric cables as they follow the constraints of the landscape.

Parametric processes carried out design calculations and form determination while a complex construction phase, where the pylons were fabricated from flat steel plates cut to individual shapes using contemporary numerically controlled tools, assembled the pylons together using automatic continuous welding machines.

Check out previously featured projects by HDA as well as their complexities blog, an open research platform about architecture and complex geometry where the process of opening architectural culture and communication toward a more open culture vision of architectural contents is top priority.


Hugh Dutton’s design was admitted into the second phase in 2008 and was finally judged the winning design of the competition in December 2009.

CLIENT: Terna Spa

DESIGN TEAM: HDA – HUGH DUTTON ASSOCIÉS | designer, GIORGIO ROSENTAL | team leader, GOZZO IMPI ANTI, CEGELEC Solutions & Services |consultants


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Cite: Karen Cilento. "Pylons of the future: Dancing with Nature / HDA" 12 Feb 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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