‘Women of the Welfare Landscape’ is an Arts and Humanities Research Council supported research project that commemorates the network of women and their collaborators who have had a major impact on shaping the post-war designed landscapes of the British Welfare State. The research will shift attention to their work as educators, campaigners or advocates; and projects of the everyday: landscapes in service of communities. It will analyse landscapes of public housing, public and country parks funded by municipalities and landscapes of infrastructure commissioned by publicly owned, nationalised industries, as material examples of landscapes for social benefits and 'fair share for all': a key objective of Welfare Planning.

By using a contextual biographical approach, the project will place the collaborations and networks of Brenda Colvin (1897-1981) at the centre of the research, through which the wider questions will be explored. Brenda Colvin was born in India and, after being educated in Swanley Horticultural College, started her independent practice in 1922. She was the first woman to be elected president of any leading built environment institute, when she took on the role of President of the Institute of Landscape Architects in 1951. Her work not only defined the future of the Institute - and the profession - but also had lasting impact on the education of landscape architects. Her collaboration with Hal Moggridge through their practice Colvin & Moggridge ensured the lasting legacy of her work: the practice is now the longest running in the country and it celebrates its centenary in 2022.

A series of public facing events co-curated in collaboration with project partners and academic collaborators will commemorate the centenary of Colvin’s practice and will contextualise this body of work within the questions of female leadership, the changing profession of landscape architecture, and the role of these landscapes in the current debates around accessibility of green spaces highlighted by the COVID19 pandemic and the Climate Crisis.

If you would like to get in touch with the project team please email us on wowela@mmu.ac.uk

Photo credit: Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading

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Dr Luca Csepely-Knorr
Dr Luca Csepely-Knorr Reader in Architecture View profile
Dr Camilla Allen
Dr Camilla Allen Research Associate View profile