Pioneering Power: How economic motives shaped the design of energy infrastructure in the post-war period

Laura Coucill

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Protecting the visual amenity of remote landscapes and dispersed populations from the impact of new energy infrastructure and industry became a core duty of the commissioning authorities of electricity generating stations in the post-war period. Interest in the environment was prompted by hard economic enquiry, procured by the government to assess the organisation and efficiency of the nationalised bodies responsible for generation and transmission. Findings resulted in statute intended to secure the adaptability of nationalised bodies to respond to future demands, such as those posed by the development and commercial rollout of the UKs first nuclear power programme.

Interdisciplinary design cooperation, particularly across engineering, architecture and landscape architecture, gained currency during this period, especially in the delivery of the first atomic power stations, where unprecedented technology, scale and location provided a challenging brief demanding cross-disciplinary input. This paper will examine how acknowledging the significance of both environment and economics in the Electricity Act 1957, helped to shape design and engineering collaboration and the resulting aesthetic of infrastructural and industrial landscapes. The highly coordinated administrative approach in place for the development of the civil nuclear programme is thought to have led to closer design liaison between architects, landscape architects and engineers, consequently, special attention is paid to the last power station and largest reactors to be built as part of the UK’s first commercial nuclear programme, located at Wylfa, Anglesey, where the input of Sylvia Crowe was integral to its success.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventECLAS: Creation / Reaction - University of Greenwich, Greenwich, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Sept 201712 Sept 2017


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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