Design & landscape

Collaborative design & protected landscapes

“the Countryside Agency recognises the importance of good design in achieving a better quality countryside in social, economic and environmental terms – making places attractive for people to live in, work in and visit so that communities are sustainable in the long term.” Sustainable design principles for the Landscape Access and Recreation Division of the Countryside Agency, May 2006

Protected landscapes in the UK are the site of many interests. People who wish to use land and water for its recreational use, scientific interest, economic benefits, heritage worth and not least their aesthetic value. Balancing these, often conflicting, interests makes their management a challenge.

Questions that arise include: How is it possible to reconcile protection of environmental assets with the fact that they are living cultural landscapes which face significant economic and social pressures like the decline in traditional agriculture, loss of tranquillity and changing social make up of villages and towns ? How can local economies be developed without significant impact on resources and how can visitors be encourage to use the land in a sustainable way ? In the face of these issues land managers must continue to look for new ways forward and engage communities in the process.

Strategies involving artists in this area have ranged from the staging of spectacular events that retain a sympathy with the environment to the use of art in interpreting the mythologies and stories of places. Artists have also been asked to assist in consultation with communities, finding out what their hopes and aspirations are for the future. As part of this new partnerships are being forged with organisations like the Forestry Commission, British Waterways and the National Trust that develop innovative approaches to conservation in the 21st century. A key success factor in these new relationships has been collaborative working, bringing in a wide variety of expertise from scientists, designers, educators and managers.
Areas where art and design can contribute include:
•    Developing new spaces for leisure and recreation in the countryside which accommodate both people and eco-systems •    Enhancing renewable energy structures, waste management or other facilities to address visual impact, or other design concerns •    Allowing spaces for play as well as purposeful recreation for health or education •    Enhancing understanding of the importance and irreplaceable nature of our historic environment through new interpretative strategies.

Theme case studies

Rural Roads Protocol

Road for the Future


Collaborative processes in public art projects This section of public art online contains specially commissioned reports of the collaborative process written from personal experience by respected practitioners in the public art field, artists, architects, engineers and many others

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