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Csepely-Knorr, L., Coucill, L., 2018.

'Power and the countryside': Power Stations, Amenity and Rural Britain

Output Type:Conference paper
Dates:11/6/2018 - 13/6/2018

The rapid socio-economic and technological developments of the 20th century positioned unprecedented landmarks for power generation and distribution in the open landscape. The proposal of such edifices in uncharted territories attracted significant attention and led to leading designers recognising the need for power provision to be reconciled with "a landscape fit to live in."

Protecting the visual amenity of rural landscapes from the impact of new energy infrastructure and to (re)create aesthetically pleasing views of the buildings as well as the countryside, became a core duty of the commissioning authorities of electricity generating stations in the post-war period. Interdisciplinary design cooperation, gained currency during this period, propelled by the UK's newly nationalised Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and led to some iconic complexes of modern architecture, landscape and engineering. Central to the success and public acceptance of the power generating complexes in countryside areas was the input of leading landscape architects, such as Sylvia Crowe and Geoffrey Jellicoe, who dubbed the CEGB "the modern patron of the landscaping art".

In this paper we examine the design coordination of post-war power stations constructed under the CEGB and the rural landscapes of Britain. Central to this research are the design agendas of the architects and landscape architects committed to the realisation of the new rural landscapes, which are explored through the critical analysis of theoretical writings, contemporary journal articles and archival sources which, to date, have been underutilised. The paper will expose how the roles of designers and their relationship with CEGB, led to the delivery of some of the most remarkable industrial interventions, which dramatically reshaped the British countryside.