words Penelope Shaw
London-based Block Architecture has designed a 95ft pylon to promote the Climate Change Festival in Birmingham town centre. The polished nickel-plated structure literally reflects the issue of energy consumption.
The pylon was unveiled in Victoria Square on Saturday as the centrepiece of the festival, organised by Birmingham City Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to promote awareness of climate change and low carbon initiatives.
“CABE provided a really interesting and wide ranging brief,” says Graeme Williamson, Director at Block Architecture, “to create a large-scale piece of public art that would be beguiling and curious and engaging and social and fun.”
Project architect Rupert Scott came up with the idea of using a pylon to visualise not just the use of energy in cities but the energy used to create cities. “A pylon is an iconic visual reference to 20th century energy use and is quite provocative,” says Williamson. “This idea of invisible use of energy is something we should expose. It opens a channel of response from people who normally wouldn’t give their response.”
The structure isn’t a replica of a pylon; the only difference from the original is that it is made of nickel-plated steel with a mirror finish. The pylon is installed in the city centre on a large square base replicating a cornfield, as if it has literally been cut out if it’s habitual environment and placed incongruously in an urban setting.
The pylon will be in Victoria Square in Birmingham until 8 June.
images Leon Chew