Design in an iconic landscape: residential architecture policy and practice in Dartmoor National Park (1997-2017)

Tatum, Kirsten L. (2019) Design in an iconic landscape: residential architecture policy and practice in Dartmoor National Park (1997-2017). PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In England’s national parks, architecture represents a contested part of landscape planning, inseparable from park conservation ideologies and policies. Notions of appropriate and contextual architecture are inherently linked to landscape values, but there is little comparative research into the significance of these values in shaping approaches to the design and planning of new architecture. In national parks landscape values are often in tension: power struggles over the preservation or conservation of natural and cultural heritage divide opinion and communities, and new developments can be celebrated as enhancing the landscape or decried for destroying it. Meanwhile, landscape conservation aims must be reconciled with the interests and views of local stakeholders, including accommodating demands for new housing.

Set in Dartmoor National Park, a landscape revered for its ‘iconic’ status, this thesis investigates the landscape values, aims and interpretations – both overt and covert – influencing the perception and regulation of Dartmoor’s landscape as a context for new residential architecture. Focusing on the two primary landscape values enshrined in the national parks’ statutory purposes, namely the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty and the conservation and enhancement of cultural heritage, and on the third but lesser requirement to reconcile these aims with the socio-economic wellbeing of local communities, as set out in the statutory duty, the work considers how these different landscape objectives – both conscious and unconscious – shape recent residential architecture and planning practice, how – in broad terms – these often competing forces are ‘balanced’, and the different notions of appropriate and contextual design that result. A comparative case study of twelve recent residential developments (1997-2017), representing a variety of sites, scales, styles and typologies, is presented, considered thematically according to the three governing landscape values (‘natural beauty’, ‘cultural heritage’ and ‘community wellbeing’). Findings are synthesised to reflect on wider design discourses and policy meta-narratives, while highlighting the different perspectives among key actor groups.

Results reveal wide rifts in stakeholder notions of ‘appropriate’ and ‘contextual’ architecture, shaped by prevailing landscape values, constructions and identities, including non-visual values. Differing interpretations of national park planning policy, the problematic nature of communicating and judging qualitative aspects of ‘contemporary’ architecture, barriers to stakeholder engagement and the ongoing emphasis on visual landscape aesthetics (frequently associated with ‘vernacular’ architecture) mean that incorporating new and innovative residential architecture remains challenging. Overall, managing change can fall short of managing stakeholder expectations, and despite planning rhetoric, the aimed-for high-quality design and sustainable development is not often delivered in practice. Within an environment of rapid changes in wider landscape planning policy and practice, the application of a ‘landscape’ approach to design discourse, identifying a site’s immediate and wider character and value across all stakeholders, establishing a common vocabulary for various types of value and setting out the implications for (and benefits of) new residential architecture are identified as ways forward.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Porter, Nicole
Hale, Jonathan
Keywords: national parks, planning, housing, architecture, landscape aesthetics, sustainability, discourse analysis
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
Item ID: 56571
Depositing User: Tatum, Kirsten
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2020 14:44
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 09:51

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