ARTICLE: Power Play

Sylvia Crowe’s The Landscape of Power is strangely prescient more than 50 years on from its publication, finds Kate Pinnock
Our ancestors were convinced that all they did was justified by economic results.” This statement sounds every bit like a futuristic appraisal of our current economic recovery plan. Only it’s not. It was made in 1958 by eminent landscape architect, Sylvia Crowe, in her seminal work The Landscape of Power. Rereading Crowe’s book, I’m stuck by just how far ahead of her years she was. Apart from the slightly dated, yet still beautiful, style of her prose and particular differences in the jargon of the era, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a commentary on today’s appetite for infrastructure or any number of contemporary design discussions. And this, I suppose, is where the interest lies. Fifty years on, what does our ‘landscape of power’ look like and how has our approach to it changed, if at all?